Day 250, with holiday plans

Today is a light-gray November 17th, and my little world is a stew of political nightmares. Biden won the election in the US handily*, but 44.5 won’t concede and millions of people here think the election was stolen. Millions of people think this virus is a hoax, too, and demand their “right” to endanger millions of others. In my city, easily a third of the people walking around my neighborhood are doing so maskless, and another significant chunk wear a mask around their chin but ignore “keep 6 feet distance” guidelines. Because freedom, I guess.

It’s frustrating. I have been in this small apartment in the middle of a city for 250 days, and have only been past the front stoop thirteen times in those 250 days, those 35 weeks, those 8 months. Five of those times I stayed in the car. In the meantime, through my apartment or car windows I watch unmasked people wander outside blithely. The few times I’ve been out to walk the dog I’ve had to stand in the street waiting for unmasked people to pass, wobbling on my cane, forced to pay attention to them and the cars and the dog and my feet all at the same time so I don’t fall over into traffic.

And people elsewhere are yelling about how horrible it is that state governments are headed for the oh-so-frequently-predicted-earlier-in-the-year second lockdown. Because it’s “cancelling Thanksgiving” or “cancelling Christmas.”**

I know it’s hard for some people to be away from their loved ones. Back in July my own mother asked me to start thinking about “ways that Thanksgiving could work – don’t say no, just think about how it could work.” I didn’t have the energy to burst her balloon then, but I knew there would be no way I could attend a group gathering inside. Since then she’s listened to others in the family, but I was bracing myself for a hard conversation.

Sometimes I’m baffled at the resistance from people who know the virus is dangerous. We knew there wouldn’t be a vaccine ready until 2021. We were told by experts that the process doesn’t work like the movies. We heard all of this way back in April.

Because of all that information, I knew that my holiday plans this year would have to be treated like they were last year, when I couldn’t climb stairs and thus couldn’t be at my family’s house or Jon’s: with thought about how I’d demonstrate love to my family from a distance. I spent last Christmas at home, alone, texting or Facetiming or calling people as they celebrated. I asked Jon to go to his family instead of staying with me, because I get him every day and they do not. I was happy with our little tree at home, texting everyone, laughing at photos of my nephews opening their presents and my nieces smiling.

It was fine. I was fine. Sure, part of me being fine is that I’m a deeply introverted person, but part was because I was prepared for it.

I was prepared for this one, too.

I feel so very sorry for people who are having a deeply difficult time with the prospect of yet more alone time. Truly, I do. But if you think staying home means a holiday is canceled? You’re ignoring what the basic social premise of a holiday is about, and I don’t mean the religious aspects.

Holidays are about togetherness, and togetherness is more than just bodies. One’s love for another isn’t contained just in flesh. I promise.

It’ll hurt. It’ll ache. But the holiday can still exist. It’s up to us to make it.

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*As of today Biden has well over 5 million more in popular vote, 306 projected Electoral College votes
**You can tell a lot about who “they” are by these two comments. Pisses me off that they never include Hanukkah. Plus, there are some prominent Sikh and Baha’i celebrations that can’t happen in the usual way.

Day 180, with simultaneous fear and joy

This freaking world is both terrifying and hopeful. I posted this on Facebook, but figure it’s worth repeating publicly.

CN: discussion of quarantine
Also, this is long, so if you don’t have the bandwidth to read a lot, skip to the 3rd pgph from the bottom.
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I did the math and noted that today it is 180 days since I went into quarantine. Since March 12th, I’ve been out of the house (that is, for more than just a brief dog-walk when Jon couldn’t do it) only four times –

1) to Costco during their “senior and immune-compromised” hours (wow did we regret that, bloody seniors getting in our faces even when we were backing away),
2) to the highest point in my city, during the way-late hours of the evening, to see if we could see comet NEOWISE (we couldn’t, and after 10 minutes I ended up going back to the car because I couldn’t see people to avoid them),
3) across the city to drop off a housewarming package to a friend who just moved and whose old landlord had thrown away all her stuff,
4) to a dog beach where I assumed I might have to stay in the car and just look at the water, but everyone there was social distancing and the vast majority were wearing masks. (We still only stayed for 2 hrs.)

But I’ve also been vaguely freaked out just going around the apartment, since our upstairs neighbor (with whom we share a foyer and a basement) doesn’t mask or social distance when she goes out to chat with the garbage pickup folks – or, for that matter, when she chats with us. I love her, but it’s kinda scary.

It’s weird to live at this level of paranoia, where even our own doorknobs, even our trash cans, are suspect. I wear gloves every day to change out the “cold drinks” cooler and snacks bin we leave out for delivery folks, because these folks are risking their lives every day and it’s literally the least we can do, but I worry because we ran out of disinfectant for the drinks themselves. I wonder: am I asymptomatic? Am I endangering folks more by doing this?

Then I look out the window and see folks walking around our neighborhood with no masks, and I realize I am doing my best in a world where people are fucking selfish (and racist and ableist and and and). I see so many of my friends and family doing their best in the face of nightmarish conditions where meeting their basic needs is so fraught that they can’t do it without massive work on their part (and yknow there are a LOT of them), and I think…

It’s come to this. The empathetic vs the self-absorbed, in a fight for how to live.

That said, that fight is less one-sided than I thought. Sure, I’ve got a bubble I’m living in, but honestly it’s a pretty freaking big bubble, and the folks within it are fierce and strong and steadfast.

Folks who are struggling? You give me hope. You give me more fight. Because even when you rant or feel badly, you remind me that yes, there are a LOT of people who care deeply about the world we live in.

So to my friends who are fighting, struggling, flailing, just trying to figure out how to be and breathe in this world…

Thank you. I love you. Keep fighting. If you need something I can give, I’ve got you.

Day 161, with small comforts

Everything is wild and scary and desperate, and I needed a break.

So, photos! First, the sweetness of my snugglebug:

Kizu, a fawn dog with goblin ears, lays her greying muzzle on my pink pants and looks up at me pleadingly, hoping for food.
Perfect pleading on my pink pants

(img desc: Kizu, a fawn dog with goblin ears, lays her greying muzzle on my pink pants and looks up at me pleadingly, hoping for food.)

Even though I’m trapped in the house, there’s some beauty I can see:

orange/salmon/vivid yellow clouds above a residential building roof
Beautiful orange/salmon/vivid yellow clouds outside my window

I think the caption covers the image description, there.

And of course there’s my TimelordCat, Monte:

Monte meowing for pettins

(img desc: A seal point Siamese mix with sable face, white whiskers and bright blue eyes is lying on a sage-colored cushion, looking up at the photographer and meowing at them.)

Another out-the-window bit of joy:

Someone found some noms

(img desc: seen through a window screen that catches the late afternoon sunlight, a very skinny grey squirrel eating a purple petunia ignores the closeness of the camera.)

Day 121, After the Storm

Tropical Storm Fay blew through here yesterday. It wasn’t a bad storm by any means (says the person who has been through 5 hurricanes). The courtyard was a bit flooded and Jon & I had to change our clothes after walking the dogs to the corner, but otherwise all was well. Not even much lightning or thunder. Our animal-roos don’t mind thunder and lightning, possibly because both Jon and I love it so much? But I was thinking about our wonderful neighbor dogs and hoping they’d be okay, so I was glad it wasn’t such a noisy storm.

There was one interesting thing – one of the buildings in the little cluster where we live has a gutter drain pipe that is not quite functional, so when we went around the corner to take the dogs to their favorite pee-spot, there was this wide arc of rain runoff that looked like a really enthusiastic fountain. I wish I could have taken a photo of it, but there was no way I was going to pull out my phone in that downpour.

In other news, the world continues. In the US, protests continue. The USA is a dumpster fire. Things are getting worse here, both in relation to the virus and in relation to how our government is treating its most vulnerable people. Other countries are closing their borders to the US and they’re absofreakinglutely right to do so. The CEO of Goya praised 44.5, saying we are “blessed to have a leader like him” and then whined his free speech was being curtailed when progressives started a boycott en masse. You know who didn’t complain like a whiny baby? Nike, when conservatives boycotted them over their Kaepernick endorsement.

But hey, conservatives complaining when progressives do what they do? It’s par for the course.

On the “this is Bizarro world” side of things, Ann Coulter actually *praised Amy McGrath,* who is running against Mitch McConnell. (Yes, I confirmed this.) While sure, this is due to the pettypettycreep being angry at Mitch denouncing her chosen candidate, it is still SERIOUSLY freaking weird, and I’m really not sure our “union” (excuse me while I spit, that lie tastes worse every day) can survive what we’re going to endure come November.

I worry a lot. For my friends. For those who will be trapped in this nightmare because they have no recourse. For those who have already recovered who might experience major neurological issues later. I worry. And feel helpless. But that’s also par for the course these days.

In the meantime, I keep trying to think of better ways we can weather this storm while we wait for November.

If you have ideas, I’m open to them.

Day 100, and holy CRAP

8.5 million cases worldwide. 2.2M in the US.

Well over 450K dead. 120K of which are in the US.

We’ve been seeing spikes because of Memorial Day weekend openings.

Because people couldn’t wait. Let alone mask.

Protests continue for the fourth weekend. Confederate statues and portraits are coming down. But people are guarding others. With guns.

Juneteenth was celebrated nationally yesterday. It has become a state holiday in many states, including New York. But racism still abounds in many places.

Breonna Taylor’s murderer was fired but no charges have yet been filed. She was murdered the same day we started quarantine here, and still no charges.

I am truly, deeply hoping that justice comes, and comes with her sword.

Day 92, with Many Yrs and Omens

I haven’t been talking much about my year omens here since arriving in Philadelphia, even though I’ve been doing them since leaving Houston. Part of it is because before, I would forget to blog. Another part of it is that it got repetitive. Butterfly, dragonfly, butterfly, dragonfly. Another part of it is that it felt self-indulgent, in the era of 44.5.

But yknow, this is a Time and a Half, and sometimes we need something small and wonderful to keep us going. So I offer this with the idea that it might be something that would lift your heart.

I was worried, this year, that not being able to go beyond my stoop during the day when people are around would mean this would be a mourning dove year, or a sparrow year, since I can see those through the window. Sure, I’ve had those before, no big deal. Butbutbut this is an iconic year, and I was hoping for something more interesting.

Cue clickbait title: “They never expected what happened next!”

Two pale lavender flowers from a leggy purple shamrock plant in a beige-pink pot

OMG IT’S A FLOWER YEAR.

This purple shamrock/oxalis is only freaking four months old. I got the bulbs in February and planted them in early March.

My typical habit is that I wake up, I give the cats some kibble so they won’t wake up Jon, and then I open the curtain so that my pile-o-plants can get more sunlight. I hadn’t even NOTICED a bloom stalk on this baby, so I was shocked as hell to see it had bloomed.

And then it kept going. This was around noon.

WHERE did that other one on top come from?

I’ve never had a flower year, because really – when you’re going outside in late spring, who can tell which flowers or plants JUST kicked off? But this one, unfurling like whoa to greet me first thing in the morning?

I admit, folks, I fucking cried.

(When it comes to tears? Gods I’m easy.)

Here’s hoping that all my readers have amazing omens for the future to come. <3

Day 80, with Nebulas, Protests and Curfews

Holy crap, folks.

Okay, so first, because it’s most MOST important and this blog is for me to remember dates and times things happened* as much as it is to share with others, this past weekend there were nationwide protests about police brutality, systemic racism and government-sanctioned murder. It’s amazing to watch these protests unfold, and I cheer for folks and wish I could be out there with them. It’s also amazing to me that we’re finally seeing, via video, how white people undermine protestors. I wouldn’t care much about looting – I got disabused of the belief that the word “looting” isn’t dogwhistling for racism during Hurricane Katrina – but I DO care that white people are expressly going against the instructions of organizers, manipulating Black pain for their own ends.

And apparently over the weekend, Atatiana Jefferson’s home was vandalized too? If you don’t know her name, look her up. You SHOULD know her name, because it’s one of the stark demonstrations of how Black people still cannot even be inside their own damn homes minding their business and be safe.

While all this was going on, I was also attending the Nebulas online. I had been planning on attending in person, but WOW am I glad this was done this way because I could do so so much more like this. My physical constraints meant that I’d have missed probably half of what I got to do online, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity. Plus, what an AMAZING demonstration of what’s possible!! We were all on the airship Nebula, and coming from TechWorld myself, I know how many things could have gone wrong. This was so so well done and so smooth and easy to get through. Even the technical issues were framed in a delightful way and just… aahhh I can’t even.

Additionally, usually because I can only go to a few panels during a con, I have a favorite. This time? Nuh uh. So freaking many extraordinary panels and people and moments and connections and aaaahhh

(Though I admit extra EXTRA squee when Cat Rambo won for Carpe Glitter, because I’d been watching her work on that in her Discord. Feels more personal when you’ve borne witness to something.)

I’ve ordered…. <counts> 18 e-books because of these panels. I mean, wow, that’s a lot for me for a weekend.

Here’s the kicker for this weekend, though – at around 6 pm for both Saturday and Sunday, I received a phone alert that a curfew was being established due to the protests. No notice for the first; very little notice for the second. So for me, very low logistical impact: I had to skip panels in order to figure out how we’d take care of the dogs.

But for anyone protesting? Anyone working? There was NO WAY they could get home. It was an excuse. An excuse for the cops to start arresting anyone they wanted to. (ahemIwonderwhothatwouldbe)

Which means a lot of folks need bail.

I’ve donated, but there are lots of bail funds around the country in cities where curfews have been established. I encourage anyone who has a little room in their budgets to consider donating to help these folks out. Particularly when essential workers are caught out in this curfew as well, and are vulnerable.

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* I’m really bad at remembering time. Like, REALLY bad at it – and it’s nothing to do with age, this has been since I was very young. I can barely remember what year I graduated high school or college.