Grief

It’s been two weeks since we lost Oliver. It’s been a really difficult two weeks of missing my boy and just feeling absolutely heartbroken that he’s gone. I cry less than I did that first week, but I feel sad a lot and everything seems just so difficult to do. On the outside, I think it looks like I’m doing reasonably well – I’m getting up for work, showering, doing normal tasks. It just feels like I’m doing all of it from underwater.

What I really wanted was just to take some time to gather myself and get my head in a better place, but my job has been so busy that I wasn’t even able to take the day after we lost Oliver off from work. Every time I try and schedule any time, something happens and some deadline requires that I work it. I took the Friday off before Labor Day weekend to give myself a nice four-day weekend…and ended up working part of Saturday and Sunday. I’m beyond burned out and there’s nothing I can do about it right now. I try to look on the bright side, that I’m beyond fortunate to have a job right now and at least work is a distraction…but I feel like it’s taking a lot more effort than usual to be present and none of the quality of my work is as high as I’d like it to be. I guess I’m doing well enough, because no one I work with has seemed to notice.

I’m trying to do things that make me happy. Bill and I have resumed our morning workouts (we had taken a brief hiatus while Oliver was sick because I wasn’t sleeping much at all), and it does feel good to accomplish something at the beginning of the day. I find so much comfort in our other kitties, Saturday and Ernie. Their sweet, affectionate, and silly selves never fail to make me smile and I think they are truly the best part of me. Our friends have been beyond wonderful to us and we received thoughtful flowers and well-wishes, and a couple we’re close with even threw us a celebration of life party (just the four of us), complete with a specially-crafted menu of gin drinks because we decided that if Oliver were human he would be a gin drinker. The last two weeks have been filled with very nice times, and I do feel loved and very thankful for the wonderful people in our lives.

Last week Oliver’s ashes came back, along with an imprint of his paw in clay and a lock of his fur. Whoever clipped it even made sure to get both orange and white fur, an attention to detail that I thought was really nice. When I tried to pay the final bill, I learned that my vet had covered everything – the euthanasia, the cremation, all of it. I am beyond touched that he would do something so nice for us and so, so appreciative that when we had to go through this hard time that we had such an amazing vet and vet tech by our side through every step. Dr. Chris and Jill, you are the best. Just absolutely the best.

Grief is a funny thing and I know this, some days I feel more like myself and others I spend most of the day hurting. I try and focus on all that I have and not on the kitty I’ve lost, including the memories of him that I will have forever.

 

Oliver

On a sunny Sunday in May 2006, I drove to the animal shelter “just to look”. I was newly single and had just transferred from my old 411 operator job to working in the sales and billing call center of the phone company, and with that job came a bunch of overtime hours that I was grateful for because I needed the money but that left my Siamese, Angel, alone for 10+ hours every day while I was at work. I had convinced myself that in order for this new lifestyle to work out, Angel would need a new friend.

Of course I didn’t “just look”; I adopted a spunky little orange kitten that I knew the minute I laid eyes on that I had to have in my life and that I would name Oliver after the Disney movie Oliver and Company. He was just too cute. He would eventually grow into his ears but at that stage he definitely hadn’t yet and he looked a little bit like baby Yoda.

Angel was not even a little pleased at the new arrival and made her introductions to her new brother by biting his neck and trying to carry him around. For the first few weeks that Oliver lived with us, I had to separate them when I went to work so that I didn’t worry that she’d hurt him. Luckily things got easier as we adjusted to being a family of three, although Oliver proved to be a very mischievous little kitten. He liked to jump up on my kitchen counters and then get behind the stove. This was problematic because once he got back there he couldn’t get out, and I had to stretch out across the stovetop, stretching my arm as much as I could to try and reach him, all the while thinking that maybe this time he’d learn it was a bad idea to go back there but at the same time knowing he probably would learn nothing at all. I was relieved when he finally got big enough that he couldn’t fit back there anymore.

Oliver kept me on my toes for sure. Once he was too big to get behind the stove, he would amuse himself by opening the bottom cupboard door to my pantry and chewing a hole into the bag of cat food so that he could help himself to snacks, and getting up on the table and grabbing the dining room light fixture and ultimately pulling it out of the ceiling one night while I was at my parents’ house for my mom’s birthday celebration. He was awfully lucky he was so cute and that I loved him, because more than once his hijinks had me in tears. But looking back, I know that part of the problem was that I had never had a kitten before and didn’t know what kinds of toys and puzzles and things to give him so that he could channel his energy in ways that didn’t make me want to pull my hair out. He was a very loving little guy and was super patient with me, even when I didn’t feel patient with him. I would affectionally call him my handsome lil’ man, even as he grew up and at one point was over 20 pounds.

Oliver had a lot of personality and he was very sure of himself and what he wanted. He was very talkative and would wake me up in the morning with his meows for his breakfast. Whenever I left the house, I knew that when I returned he’d come marching to the front door to tell me hello and receive pets (and, if he had his way, food). He loved napping in the sun and when I started working from home I learned that he had a routine of going into our room mid-day because that was when a sunbeam shone through the skylight in our bathroom onto the bedroom carpet. He knew exactly what time of day the sunbeam could be expected, and on cloudy days he would yell at the floor because he wanted his sunshine. When Bill and I started working out in the mornings, Oliver would march over to Bill and wait expectantly to be placed at the top of the cat tree so that he could get some morning light and snooze while we exercised.

My orange boy’s best friend was our Maine Coon, Saturday. I have countless pictures on my phone of the two of them snuggled up together, fast asleep. Earlier this year I got into the habit of letting them have a paper grocery bag to play in, and once they had had their fun of hiding in the bag they would squish it down flat and nap on it. I can’t say I understand the appeal of sleeping on a paper bag, but Oliver and Saturday believed it was one of the best places ever to nap.

Last year, while Bill and I were on vacation in Chicago, Oliver suffered what our friend and pet-sitter initially thought was a stroke but turned out to be vestibular disease. We rushed home to be with our boy at the emergency vet, scared that he wouldn’t even know who we were. But the minute he saw us he began talking to us. The first few days of his recovery were really hard; he was incredibly dizzy and couldn’t stand or walk on his own, so we would hold him up while he ate, drank, and used the litter box. I slept on the couch next to him each night so that he could wake me if he needed to get up. We weren’t sure that he would ever get well again, but slowly the dizziness subsided and he began to be able to do things on his own again. The vestibular disease left him with a permanent head tilt and his balance was never quite as good again, but every time he relearned to do something we were overjoyed. He was so brave and determined through the whole ordeal. Slowly he started being able to get up on the couch by himself, and he began to play again. As he continued to get better it was such a joy seeing him loving life and doing all the things he loved again.

Over the last year, Oliver’s health declined and particularly in the last couple of weeks he definitely wasn’t feeling well anymore. He spent most of the last week under my desk in my room, where he could be by my side while I worked and could see me when I was in bed at night. He would get up briefly to have a little bit of food and some water, but his energy was gone and he would go right back under the desk afterwards. I moved his little bed under the desk with his favorite blankets, his special little pillow, and the stuffed squirrel that was his favorite toy.

On Tuesday we made the very difficult decision to say goodbye to Oliver. We took all of his favorite things with us when we loaded him up to take him to the vet for the last time. His last few moments were peaceful and warm, as I snuggled him and told him what a good boy he was and how much I loved him.

Since Oliver died I’ve been so heartbroken. I miss my lil man desperately and I hate it that he’s gone. I know time heals all but right now I can’t make it through the day without crying, without thinking I see him lying in the hallway before remembering that I will never see him again.

I want to remember the happy times I had with my first boy, and the times that certainly weren’t funny to me fourteen years ago but make me laugh now. Oh how I loved my Oliver, my lil man, my orange squish. He changed me forever in the very best of ways.

You and me together we’ll be
Forever you’ll see
We two can be good company
You and me
Yes, together we two
Together, that’s you
Forever with me
We’ll always be good company
You and me
Yes, together we’ll be
You and me
Together we’ll be
Forever, you’ll see
We’ll always be good company
You and me
Just wait and see

 

Struggling

Despite intending to, I haven’t been doing much writing lately. At the beginning of the pandemic the world felt very chaotic, but I was doing okay. I was (and still am) grateful for my safe home to quarantine in, and my ability to work from home exclusively until things were calmer. I was settling into a new routine and things felt like they were reasonably under control.

Since George Floyd was killed in May, I’ve felt a lot less like things are reasonably under control. The US has broken out into the most intense social unrest that I can remember, and with the presidential election just six weeks away I feel like no matter what the results are that things are going to get immediately worse here. I’ve tried to do my part to learn and listen, and I feel like I have a better understanding than I ever did of systematic racism and just how much it plays a part in every aspect of daily life, from its implications in healthcare to education to housing. It feels like no amount of reform will fix an entire society built on a foundation of inequality, but how do we tear it all down and start over? The enormity of it overwhelms me. I realize now that I was able to grow up blissfully ignorant of all of this because I am white and I’m struggling with this knowledge and upset that those in charge of educating me participated in such blatant whitewashing (whether they knew they were doing it or not). I’ve tried to do my part by donating to organizations that are working to help and by speaking up, which has brought me closer to some people and pushed me farther apart from others.

I’ve lost a lovely friend I met at Zumba class to cancer, and former coworkers to COVID and to suicide. There were no funerals for them because of the pandemic and even though attending a funeral is not high on the list of things I would ever say I “want” to do it would have been nice to be able to say goodbye to them among other friends and loved ones.

I worry about people I love whose mental health is suffering from all that has happened so far this year, while I can feel my own declining as the months pass. I don’t exactly know what to do about it. I try not to vent too much or complain too much because honestly, I know how lucky I am to be in the position I am in and so many have it far worse than I do, so what am I feeling so low about? I I know all of the tricks and tools to work through anxiety, it’s just hard when it feels like I can’t even take a breath before the next crazy thing happens.

For most of last week we were shut in our house with the windows closed because of the wildfires raging across most of the west coast. Not being able to go outside or breathe fresh air was very draining to me. I went to bed a couple of nights ago and as I was trying to fall asleep I found myself abruptly feeling incredibly angry. Nothing provoked it, I was just lying in my bed, but I suddenly felt enraged and I had no idea why which just added confusion to the anger. And below all of it was guilt for being so upset when in truth I was so fortunate that I was safe and that no fires were threatening my home. It could be so much worse….but of course, that doesn’t mean it’s good.

Our oldest cat, Oliver, is having health issues again and it makes me so sad. My sassy orange kitty, who once weighed upwards of twenty pounds with an attitude roughly the same size as his body, is as feisty as ever but continues to decline physically. He is barely ten pounds and is skin and bones. He had his teeth cleaned last week and the vet expressed concerns to me about how frail Oliver looks these days. We do blood work which keeps coming back relatively normal and we have no real answers about what’s causing his weight loss but if he continues to decline I worry that we won’t have him that much longer. He’s fourteen, not a young cat by any means, but he’s been in my life since he was around six weeks old and the thought of losing him breaks my heart. I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to be home more and spend more time with him, even though I would never have wished for this pandemic and I am not happy it has happened.

I miss the outlets for stress that I used to have, especially dance class. It used to help so much to go spend an hour dancing with positive, amazing women and that time always helped me feel better about everything in life, no matter what was going on. But I cancelled my gym membership when the gym reopened in August because I just don’t feel comfortable going back in the middle of a pandemic, and with the way things are going I know that isn’t going to change anytime soon. But oh how I miss it.

I feel overwhelmed and I feel guilty that I feel overwhelmed. I’m trying to focus on the good in my life and take comfort in that.

An Edmonds Kind of Lunch Break

On afternoons when I don’t have a lot of meetings, I like to order tea from the Starbucks down the street from me. Although it’s only a little over a mile of distance and so theoretically very walkable on my lunch break, the Starbucks in downtown Edmonds is located in what’s referred to as the Edmonds Bowl, which is a valley about 400ft of elevation below my own house. So in other words, to get back home I have to walk up a very steep hill….so I usually opt to just drive to fetch tea.

I absolutely love downtown Edmonds. Even though I could probably find a parking spot right in front of Starbucks, I usually opt to park a block or so away so that I can take a short walk and pass by the shops and restaurants that line Main Street. Never before in my life have I had such a sense of place as I do here. Now that I work from home full time, I get to spend more time in my own community and it has really reaffirmed to me that I picked the right place to call home.

Although I usually skip the Main Street hill during the middle of my work day, Bill and I do climb it nearly every evening after work when we take our walks and on weekends when we venture into the Bowl on foot. Last Saturday we walked down, got takeout from Rory’s, one of our favorite restaurants, and ate our lunch at the beach. I was surprised that the waterfront wasn’t more crowded on a nice summer afternoon, but we were easily able to distance ourselves from other people and found a spot to sit and eat our food while we watched cars load and unload on the ferry.

When we talked about things we wanted when we were house shopping two years ago, Bill and I both agreed that we wanted to be within walking distance of downtown. We knew that finding a house or condo in the Bowl that was in our price range and had everything we wanted was unlikely, but we both wanted to be close enough that we didn’t have to rely on the car every time we wanted to go out to dinner or to the Saturday Market in the summertime. Even as I write this I’m still amazed that we were able to find our condo, which is so perfect for us and gives us the walkability we wanted so much.

Today I was in sort of a funk, so I ordered myself a tea and headed down to Starbucks to get it. I was instantly cheered up by the atmosphere in downtown Edmonds as I parked a block away and walked the rest of the way to get my drink. I admired a cute outfit on display on the front porch of Rogue, a boutique clothing store that I love. Even through my mask I could smell the delicious scents of food being prepared at the Market, a great place to get fish and chips. I could look down the street and glimpse views of the Sound. Just the experience of being there, even for a few minutes, lifted my spirits and completely changed my mindset.

The hit of caffeine didn’t hurt either, though.

 

 

The Evolution of My Feelings on Social Media

Right now, I have a very love-hate relationship with Facebook.

I still remember the morning that social media entered my life. It was 2005, and my then-boyfriend and I were house-sitting for his parents, and it was back in the day when I was still working weird shifts as a 411 operator and had a random weekday morning off. Alone in the house, I made myself some coffee and sat down at the computer in their den to check my email. I had an invite from a friend to some website called Myspace. I had no idea what social media even was, but as I curiously set up a profile and began searching the site I discovered that a lot of people I knew were also on it. People I worked with, people I’d gone to school with – the majority of them also had Myspace profiles.

For years afterwards, I really enjoyed Myspace. It was so frivolous and entertaining. You could customize the backgrounds on your page and select a song that would play when anyone visited it. There was a section where you could publish blog posts, which was how I first got into blogging. And on the bulletin board people would fill out random surveys and silly quizzes. I never got tired of the site, but over time fewer and fewer people were actually using it and it got a lot less interesting. By 2007, pretty much everyone had stopped posting on Myspace and migrated over to Facebook, and not wanting to lose touch with people I followed.

Facebook has evolved a LOT since I first joined it. The ‘On this Day’ feature that lets you see your posts from the day’s date in prior years is a humorous reminder of what the experience used to be: the reactions to posts was limited to liking (at first you couldn’t even comment, people would post on your wall and you’d go post on theirs to carry on conversations). The post feature always started off with “so-and-so is” so all our posts followed that pattern and the older posts are always such gems as “Veronica is getting ready to go to Costco”.

Ahhh, simpler times.

Now personal posts are actually rare and my Facebook timeline is filled with people sharing articles they find interesting, mixed in with some photos of pets/kids/the trademark homemade banana bread of the pandemic. There’s a lot of squabbling. People who don’t even know each other call each other snowflakes and libtards and all sorts of other stuff in the comment section of an article shared by the New York Times. I wish there was a way to hide comment sections so I couldn’t even see them. I’ve made a habit of keeping my friend list smaller, because over time I feel less like knowing the opinions of people I worked with fifteen years ago. It’s not because I don’t like those people anymore, it’s that it’s impossible to maintain emotional connections with so many people. There’s a theory called Dunbar’s number that says that human beings are only capable of maintaining a maximum of 150 connections at once. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad to have a thousand Facebook friends if that’s how you want to use social media, but for me it’s overload.

I have accounts on Instagram and Twitter too, and neither one of them ever makes me unhappy like Facebook does. I think that the reason for that is probably partially because of the way I use it and because I have fewer friends, people who I tend to be closer to, and so it bothers me more when people I love are hateful, narrow-minded, racist, or when they behave badly online. In the past I scolded my dad more than once after he left rude complaints about his service on the Facebook page of the company I worked for, reminding him that I didn’t appreciate him doing that because the company literally paid all of my household bills and that he could let me know he was having a problem and I’d get him in touch with someone to help him.

It probably seems like I just hate Facebook now and should deactivate my account instead of complaining about it, and I actually did do that but only lasted about a week before I got sucked back in. Every single day, someone would ask me if I’d read or seen something on Facebook and then I’d remind them I didn’t have an active account but I was missing out on the things that I actually did want to see, like photos of my friend’s new puppy and an invitation to a Zoom happy hour. I like those aspects of Facebook.

For now my compromise is that I’ve deleted the app on my phone but left my account active and set up email notifications if someone tags me in something or invites me to an event, so that I don’t miss anything but am not tempted to mindlessly scroll and find myself wound up either.

I don’t think I’ll ever stop missing those Myspace quizzes, though.

The Past, Present, and Future of Normal

Not for the first time in my life, I feel like I am living through history in the making. Years from now, kids in school will learn about 2020 the way they now learn about the terrorist attacks on 9/11/2001, and they’ll try to imagine what it was like to be alive for events they either were too young to remember or weren’t alive to experience at all. They’ll hear about the COVID-19 pandemic and learn about how different countries around the world responded. They’ll memorize statistics about how many people got sick, how many died, how many businesses ceased to exist. They’ll learn about protests against police brutality and racism, and I can only hope that they’ll also learn about how real change came out of them and how police were made to be better trained and better held accountable and that as a whole our country took a hard look at systematic racism and began a years-long effort of policy and social changes that moved us closer to real equality in America.

Even though there’s so much upheaval and uncertainty right now, we still go about our daily lives. It’s strange to be simultaneously engrossed in updates on the pandemic and on protests, and to also have normal daily tasks to focus on like picking up groceries or finishing a report for work. I think about how it must have felt to be alive during other historical events, like World War II. The war is raging and all you want is for life to be more like you remember it before the war, more normal, but even though what’s playing out is terrible and hopefully ultimately makes things better the normal that you remember is gone forever. That’s how I feel now, like the “normal” I knew before March 2020 is never coming back.

It’s exactly the same understanding I had as I watched the footage of planes flying into towers when I was seventeen years old. Things will never be the same after this. 

Right now, normal is working from home and mostly interacting with my family and friends digitally rather than in person. I have a select few people outside of my own household that are in our little circle now, people that I feel reasonably comfortable seeing in person. We’ve gotten used to making plans with friends that let us follow the social distancing guidelines: meeting up at a park, or in someone’s yard, or in the adorable gazebo in front of my condo building. Normal is washing my face masks as part of laundry day, then putting them in their individual Ziploc bags and stowing them in my purse so that I always have a fresh one at the ready if I am out and need to run into a store or if there’s a crowd of people where I wasn’t expecting one to be. I own enough of them now that I have a variety of colors and I know which brands fit best on my face. Normal is really weighing the risks of doing things that I used to not even think twice about, like whether it’s a good idea to get my hair done by a stylist or go to a store in person rather than ordering from their website or whether I feel like I can appropriately social distance on the deck of a favorite restaurant or if I’d be safer just getting my food to go and eating at home.

When my husband and I set foot into our lovely condo for the first time, on a Sunday morning two years ago, I instantly fell in love and knew it was where I wanted to live. At the time I had no idea just how special the place is, how grateful I’d be for this open and comfortable home that is now also serving as our work spaces and our gym. Bill and I are able to both do our jobs without interrupting each other, we have a nice-sized deck that lets us enjoy being outside together and also gives us the feeling of doing something fun and different when we opt to get takeout and then eat outside as a treat for ourselves. Sometimes I feel a little cooped up, but I guess that after being at home most of the time for five straight months that feeling is normal.

And so, we’re grateful and we’re making the best of it.

I have no idea what “normal” will look like, post-pandemic. Will wearing masks in public just become part of everyone’s routine? Will I ever really go back to working in an office building, or am I home for good? What I hope will happen is that people won’t forget about this year, forget that it became a luxury to enjoy a glass of wine on a restaurant deck or to hug a friend or to go to a party. I hope that we’ve discovered what’s really important and that we’ll live differently because of this.

10 Pounds Down in 2020

In January, I made the same vow that many people make at the beginning of the year: I was going to develop healthier habits, get fit, and lose weight. I didn’t want to follow a diet plan or do anything extreme; instead, I decided that I would make small changes that I felt I could live with for the rest of my life, and see where that would take me.

I was doing really well and seeing good results….and then in the first few days of March my whole life changed when, in response to COVID-19, I was immediately transitioned to working from home full-time. A few days after that, my gym was closed down, and by mid-March Washington was under a stay-at-home order. To be honest, March felt like the longest month ever.

Early on, I sort of lost my mind as I transitioned from shopping in-store to placing our grocery orders online. I was adding all kinds of junk food to them, stuff that I hadn’t eaten in years that all of a sudden I was craving. I justified this by thinking of it as comfort food during a stressful time, but I realized pretty quickly that this wasn’t a good strategy. Determined to get back on track, I started reading blogs and articles written by people who worked at home full-time before the pandemic to get their tips on how to be successful. The overall theme was a recommendation to create a routine and stick to it.

Following that advice, Bill and I developed a schedule in which we would wake up and work out first thing, before we logged in to work for the day. I’ve continued to meal-prep my breakfasts of egg whites and veggies for the work week so that breakfast is fast and I don’t have to think about it, and we plan lunches and dinners ahead of time when we place our grocery orders. Once a week, we get takeout from one of the local restaurants we love so that we can continue to show them support.

Now that we’ve been home for over four months, our routine is solid. Monday through Thursday, we work out before work, and on Fridays we clean the house before work so that our chores are done and we can relax on the weekend (okay, so that I can relax on the weekend…I can never chill out if the house is a mess!). We still get ready and dress for work, albeit much more casually than we did when we went into our offices, but we’re not working in our pajamas to be sure. I eat the same breakfasts, lunches, and snacks at the same times throughout the workday that I did when I was packing food to go to the office. We end our workday with a long walk, to help us mentally transition from work to relaxing. On weekends, we rarely have plans anymore, but we like to take walks into downtown Edmonds.

I’m really pleased about how active we are now that we’re home full-time. I miss the dance classes I used to take at my gym a lot, but I’ve really enjoyed our walks and morning workouts. A few months before we got married in 2017, a former coworker introduced me to Beachbody on Demand for at-home workouts. I’ve kept it as a backup option so that I could still work out on days I wasn’t able to get to the gym, and now it’s a lifesaver. It’s nice having an app that gives me access to so many different workouts that I can do in around 30 minutes.

So far I’m down 10 pounds in 2020, and I am super proud of myself for being able to make progress despite the pandemic, even if that progress has sometimes felt achingly slow. I’m not where I want to be yet, but I’m a whole lot closer.

(Caren) White Bread Only

Not surprisingly, it seems that the only topic really on anyone’s mind is the pandemic or topics surrounding the pandemic.  It feels like the quarantine is making people even dumber than usual, like people who don’t realize you ought not use the bathroom while on video chat, but honestly are stories like these that shocking coming from a country that had to be warned by Lysol not to drink their cleaning products? There have been some truly heart-warming stories of people helping each other and a bunch of stories that make me feel like humanity is literally the worst (people protesting the quarantine, I’m looking at you). But every now and then, even in a pandemic, a story comes along that is just so crazy that I spend a solid half hour fact-checking it to make sure it wasn’t made up.

Today we’re going to talk about Caren White (and yes, that’s her real name, which is just too perfect), a woman from New Jersey who is mad at all the people who are baking their own bread now instead of leaving the yeast and flour for her, and decided to scold the lot of us via a since-deleted article on Medium. Don’t worry, the Internet heroes of the world got screen shots, which you can see in this post. The crux of Caren’s request to see all our managers is that now everyone is baking bread and so there aren’t any ingredients left for her to bake bread and she feels that this is incredibly unfair. Best I can tell, she seems to believe that people are baking this bread, taking photos of it to post on social media, and then either tossing it directly into the trash or lighting it on fire, because she doesn’t for a second contemplate the possibility that we might be, you know, eating it.

You see, Caren doesn’t eat store-bought bread like the rest of us savages, and she can’t fathom why we’d suddenly rise like a lovely loaf of sourdough up to her food social status and decide to make our own. In her mind, the people around her are just bored IG influencers who don’t stop to think or care that her children might have to have their organic peanut butter and home-canned jelly sandwiches on Wonder Bread like barbarians.

I can only imagine what it’s going to do to her one day when her son (who I’m very confident is named Kyle) comes to her and stares her boldly in the face while declaring that from now on he’s only eating frozen corn dogs and drinking Mountain Dew.

Before deleting herself off the Internet forever, or until the backlash dies down, or whatever, Caren had the final word by declaring she wasn’t surprised by the response to her post since we’re all a bunch of entitled assholes who need to learn to share. Which is really sort of a perfect sign-off for her, because what could be more of a Karen trait than thinking other people are the entitled ones?

 

 

Looking Back on Two Months of Quarantine

It’s been nearly two months now since Bill and I began working at home exclusively, and over a month since Washington state initially gave residents a stay at home order. As of yesterday, the stay at home order will last until May 31st and then things will begin to reopen slowly in a four-phase process, with an estimated three weeks spent in each phase. Our company is taking a particularly conservative approach to having employees return to the office to work, and right now the earliest we would be going back is September.

Bill and I are incredibly lucky and I am grateful for that every day. Our lives are different of course, but our situation is about as ideal as I think anyone could hope for given the circumstances. Unlike so many, we are able to comfortably work from home and we aren’t worried about money during this time. Our local grocery store offers curbside pickup and so every week I can go online, fill out an order, and then pick a time to go retrieve it. My groceries are loaded into the back of my car for me and I don’t have to worry about walking through stores among people who either aren’t paying attention to or don’t care about social distancing precautions. And since we don’t have kids, we’re able to focus on our busy professional lives and spend our weekends unwinding, without worrying about entertaining (or educating!) small people of our own creation. I’ve seen people online joking about divorce rates going up post-quarantine, but for us the additional time together has brought us closer and strengthened our bond.

I know not everyone I work with is happy to be working remotely full-time, but I have to confess that I’ve come to really appreciate it. I love being able to sleep later, I don’t miss that 5am alarm or the hour or more each way I’d spend in traffic driving back and forth to the office five days a week. Now, instead of getting up before dawn and rushing to get a shower and get on the road before traffic hits its peak, I wake up to the sun and spend the first half hour of my morning working out before I take my shower and log into work for the day. There’s a moment in the mornings, when I’m fresh out of the shower and making my coffee before I check emails, when I always feel calm and accomplished and ready to take on the day. September feels like a long ways away, but I know time will fly by and I know I’ll be sad when I don’t have that moment in the mornings anymore.

Like a lot of people, we are home a lot more than usual now and we’ve been trying to put that extra time to good use. We’ve enjoyed watching movies and discovering new shows together, and we’ve been doing some projects around our condo that we’d intended to get to for ages but never seemed to have the time for. We replaced the light in our dining room, and Bill has been going through the house and changing out all of the outdated-looking brass fixtures for more modern matte black ones. We now have new doorknobs, hinges, and door handles, and it’s amazing how much of a difference those changes make in how the house looks. I love our condo. I’ve lived in some houses I liked a lot, but this place is by far my favorite.

I’ve always loved baking, but I just never seemed to find the time and motivation after a long work week. Now though, I’ve been having a great time trying out different recipes and experiments every weekend, and have produced (and consumed) far more cookies than any person probably should. Thank goodness for those morning workouts!

For the most part I feel like I’m in a really good place mentally amid the chaos of this pandemic. I’ve accepted that it’s a wait-and-see situation and the only thing I can do to be helpful is to follow the stay-at-home orders, so I’m taking that very seriously. I’m trying to stay focused on doing a good job at work, keeping our house clean and comfortable, and enjoying all the good things I have that I’m so grateful for.

Fun Ideas to Pass the Time in Quarantine

Although it depends somewhat on where you are in the world, odds are you’re in quarantine right now as we experience a pandemic. My company put out orders to us to work from home a month ago, and in the state of Washington the stay-at-home order from our governor was just extended through May 4th. Work has definitely been keeping me busy, but two months (or maybe even more) is a long time to be at home.

For anyone like me who is suddenly finding themselves with more time on their hands, all this time at home can get boring, so I thought I could help out by coming up with a list of fun and easy ideas to do while in quarantine. I encourage everyone to try them all and report back on the wild success of each one.

Give yourself a makeover. Just because you’re not going out doesn’t mean you don’t deserve to look fabulous! Now’s the time to give yourself that haircut your normal stylist always discourages because “that really just wouldn’t go well with your face shape” (as if a Mohawk doesn’t look good on EVERYONE). It’s totally okay if you don’t have nice scissors, just go get the ones from that block of knives in the kitchen. It’ll be fine. If you’re doubting your own abilities, you can soothe those nerves with a few alcoholic beverages first. You’re going to look so pretty!

Sign Up for Nextdoor and become your neighborhood’s unofficial sheriff. Depending on the positioning of your home and windows, investing in a pair of binoculars (that you ordered off of Amazon, NOT that you bought in a store…but you know that!) may be optimum. Watch your neighborhood like a hawk and immediately take to the Internet to report any instances of walkers who aren’t maintaining six feet of distance, people riding bikes on the sidewalk, or any other mayhem you observe. Be ever-vigilant. Ignore any haters; or, even better, accuse them of being toilet paper hoarders. You do not need to know if this accusation is true because it’s the Internet and you can say whatever you want.

Create a YouTube channel and post a video of yourself reacting to the movie Frozen. Then share the link on all your social media accounts so that your family and friends can have a lovely time watching you croon ‘Let it Go’ while tears flow uninhibited down your face after you’ve consumed a bottle and a half of Merlot. Trust me, you will become super famous and everyone will love watching it. I suppose this would be a good moment to give the disclaimer that I’ve never actually seen that movie but I’m still confident in this idea.

Call your mom and confess all of your more sordid secrets from your teenage years. Mom will have a blast hearing that crazy story about the time you told her you were sleeping at Janet’s house, but really you were getting drunk on Smirnoff straight from the bottle and puking in a field. Note: if you still live with your mom it might be a good idea to skip this one.

Play a game of Monopoly with those you’re quarantined with. It’s the wholesome game that never ends badly.