Day 59, with US Mother’s Day

Since getting together with Jon, I’ve had a little tradition of sending flowers, a plant, or some such thing to my mother, grandmother, stepsister, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. This year I couldn’t send what I’d usually send because, yknow, not an essential business. So it’s a giftless Mother’s Day, this year.

I’m a bit taken aback how awkward and wrong it feels.

I mean, sure, we called and texted folks and had lovely conversations. Everyone understands the context we’re living in. I know no one feels slighted. Everyone is just happy everyone else is being safe.

So why does it still feel like I’ve let people down?

It might be a side effect of quarantine. After all, this isn’t good for anyone’s mental health, even while it is the best alternative to maintain people’s physical health. Or it might be that I’m upset at my lack of creativity – I wasn’t able to come up with a good alternative that would work for everyone involved.

In the end, I know this is a good thing because I love all these folks and want them to feel loved. But wow is it weird when one part of my brain decides to be inconsolable about something like this.

Here’s to all the people who care.

Day 49, with End-of-April vibes

Wow, it’s the end of April already.

CW: commentary on the state of the world.

. . . um, some *enthusiastic* commentary.

So yeah. Almost two entire months of staying inside 90% of the time, masks for the other 10%, and working entirely from home.

On the one side, I have to say I am really delighted with my work team, and how generous folks are with each other, and how folks have stepped up to take on work they wouldn’t normally do. How free they are with compliments and help and support. I’d seen hints of it before, but you really get a sense of who folks are when in the middle of crisis. I am really proud of being on this team.

On the other hand, the world. Oh gods, the WORLD WHAT IS GOING ON WHY IS EVERYTHING ON FIRE AND WHY IS THAT ORANGE GIBBON* OVER THERE USING A SUPER-SOAKER OF LIGHTER FLUID ON EVERYONE WHYYY

This is a fucker of a virus and everything I see about it is terrifying. The people – even doctors! – who want to treat it like it is equivalent to a seasonal flu are boggling… I mean, sure, the flu is dreadful and it kills a lot of people but usually that’s over the course of 5 months, not 2. The death rate since we’ve been tracking is pretty berserk, globally.

aaaaand that has me pretty messed up. Like, sure I can go on and do all the things but I’ve got brain splinters poking me in the back of the eyes kinda messed up.

I personally know 7 people who think they’ve gotten it, so far. One’s been confirmed, and it was dicey for a bit, but she’s moved out of the ICU today, thanks to all gods.

She’s significantly younger than me. So yeah, I’m worried for people.

Tomorrow, it’s May. We’ll be officially 1/3rd through 2020.

Crap.

* no I don’t mean Gritty get his name outa yer mouf.

Day 43, with Anniversary and Work-based Failure

I’m not gonna talk about Russia’s new 5k, or Lysol having to issue a disclaimer about something the President of the United States said during a press conference*.

This post is a wee summary of a personal good and personal bad on the same day.

First, I have been struggling to get an update to one of my work products out the door. For like six months. It has been broken differently every single step of the way. And I thought we had it, but when the build was sent out yesterday? Everything crashed on my test device. It was a brand new device, too, so nothing to conflict with the app.

I was … surprisingly crushed. Sick-feeling. Tearing up. Like… it’s just an app. Built on a major platform. Why is it taking so incredibly long to build it and make it work? It USED to work.

Sheesh I’m tearing up just thinking about it. Six months wasted. And today was supposed to be the day we finally shared some progress with the rest of the community. Instead I had to write them all that there was a blocker and it was pushed to next week. (If it gets fixed, that is. Sigh.)

On the flip side?

Today is the 10th anniversary of the day Jon and I actively decided to be a couple**. Which isn’t a big thing, but it’s nice to have the marker. Makes for some extra happy kisses in the morning.

I’m hanging on to that, for dear life, this morning.

*I mean, Jesus fucking Christ what the hell timeline is this? Ionesco meets Palahniuk or something?

**There are not many things I’m Leslie Knope-ish about, but romantic anniversaries are one of them. But I promise – I don’t do the berserk giftie thing.

Day 41, with 50 yrs of Earth Day

It’s weird that I can’t go out and enjoy the burgeoning spring on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, but I get that the weirdness is also poignant and poetic. I’m not the best steward and I should learn more skills in that area, and figure out how best to protest misuse given my physical limitations.

Protest only once the quarantine is over, of course.

Day 40, with Overwhelm

CW: Death toll, other associated numbers, general horror at the state of the world

Today is a rough one. A reeeeeally rough one.

I understand that anything that would make US governmental bodies shut down businesses would have to be bad. But today it hit me how bad it still is, vs my miniscule effort, vs all these days inside.

In the past two days, over 10K people have died globally. More people have died in the US between 4/20 and 4/21 than are, on average, killed by heart disease (the #1 killer in the US). The death rate right now in Spain is over 10%. The death rate in the US is 5% so far, and while New York’s curve is finally starting to flatten, as a country that curve is still climbing.

We’re doing incredibly badly at containing this monster, and I’m terrified for friends and family across the globe. If you’re reading me regularly you probably are already doing all you can, but if you stumble on me by accident? Please stay safe, don’t play chicken with this horrible thing.

Day 34, with Exhaustion

Yesterday morning my voice was ragged and low, what Jon calls my Kathleen Turner Overdrive voice. I sounded like a massive cold was in my throat and lungs, snot not there yet but oh-yeah incoming. And I was TIRED. Really darkdeep tired. I was seriously debating calling in a sick day. But people need, and work needs, and I’m doing (relatively) good work for a fine institution that serves people, and I wasn’t SICK sick.

So I got up, and started working.

And very quickly regretted it.

Not because anything went wrong, per se. Everything in my work-world is exciting and has the typical tech hitches, and the interpersonal dynamics are all familiar to me and everyone associated with my projects really means extremely well.

No, the problem was the tiredness. I haven’t been this kind of tired since the last time I had mono. Adding a LOT of video conferencing calls where I was called upon to be cheerful* was an effort and stress I wasn’t really up for. I ended the day with my head on my desk, my cheeks not just aching but burning from smiling too long, and all I wanted to do was sleep. I actually did go and lie down under the covers for a while, and if I’d had dinner I might have just passed out.

But I was angry at myself. I’m not doing that much; I’m not working up to my personal spec day by day. So there I was, head on desk, thinking “dammit Risa get the hell up and get [that other thing] done.”

If that sounds familiar to anyone, I want to extend a psychic hug. Sometimes gentleness with ourselves and each other is hard, because the world is not gentle and we’re keyed to respond fast and adapt soon after. But nothing about this is actually easy. Living with helplessness is not easy. So I want to remind you that not only is the world full of horror right now, but there was horror we were struggling with before this all happened, and your tiredness or anger or pain? It makes sense. Things are bad. We get tired. Struggling to not be tired only works short-term. In the end, we’ll be forced to admit to the existence of that goopy human who needs to cry or scream or maybe just space out for a little while.

That goopy human deserves all the care and love we can summon for it.

*because otherwise I get the worst resting bitch face.

Day 24, with Inspirations

CW: Coping or lack thereof, discussion of a death unrelated to COVID-19

It’s funny how many tiny inspirations a person can pull from their immediate surroundings when trying to cope with a mass trauma event. I’ve been through more than one, and normally I get my coping juice from being outside or with blooming thigs. This is the first time I’ve started trying to pull some ‘power’ from these intensely localized events and observations. But I figure talking about my little inspos might help others find their own. So here goes!

First inspiration is my wee hydroplants. I adore purple passion vines* and they root really well in water, so I have six different cuttings in water around my office, four of which come from the same plant. Well, yesterday I noticed that one of the plants has decided it wants to have purple roots. In my coupla decades of water-propagating purple passion vines, I have neeeever ever seen this. This one plant has three purpling roots, one long and two just starting the pass the coloring down the length of the already-flourishing root. I am so proud of this baby for pioneering a new way to be purple.

Second inspiration is our adaptability as humans. Today I “sat shiva” with a dear friend via Skype. It wasn’t an unexpected death, but my friend couldn’t go to the funeral without endangering the rest of his family. So he stayed home, and participated in the funeral via Skype, and oh I am so so proud of him for agreeing it was best and being willing to sacrifice his own bit of closure. Seeing my friend do all of this remotely, navigating his mourning, was a strong reminder of how quickly humans adapt to adversity and keep moving.

Third and finally, I made a mask for Jon yesterday. I’d been meaning to anyway, even before the “everyone wear masks outside” directives, but the fact that the sewing machine is both dusty and hard to access right now was a deterrent. However, I realized I had a few holey cotton yoga pants I could repurpose, and an idea struck me. I was able to make a no-sew mask – not the best quality but a better-than-bandanas mask nonetheless. I’m thinking of posting a video, because a lot of people don’t have the resources (or spoons) to sew.

I’m hoping that these kinds of things keep happening, because I’m anticipating at least another 4 months of this. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m preparing to be right.

Day 14, With Spring

It’s the time of year I love the most*. This morning I looked out my office window and the sun was shining juuust right on the magnolia tree and forsythia bush across the street, and I felt…

Well. Back in my early days I’d have felt overflowing, like a cup fuller than full, in the good way. I’m slowly getting back to that emotion, but now it’s simply a wee swell in the heart, an ease in the lungs, a sense of both return and newness.

It’s a BIG conflict when compared to the sorrow and devastation this global illness has wrought, and it changes how I respond to the feeling. My immediate inclination, almost a compulsion, is to go outside and bury my face in the flowers like I’m a nectar-hunter. I can’t, though, because I’m still within the “might be a carrier” zone. So I’m staying in. No biggie, right? But when you’re contemplating your mortality, these things loom larger. I’m glad we’ve got a lilac bush really close to the front door; it’s not due to bloom for another week but if the CDC/WHO determine people can be carriers for longer than 21 days, I’d be in agony. It would be a hell of a struggle for me to not huff a lilac when there was one within walking distance. While I was in Texas, I missed lilacs more than I ever expected.

In the meantime, I feel simultaneously lucky and helpless. We’re doing reasonably well in this crisis but others I know and love are not. My stepfather has a health crisis unrelated to the virus wracking the world right now, and I think of him hourly – alongside everything else. And I think of my mother, who can’t go visit him. Alongside everything else.

And there’s nothing I can do for anyone except stay home.

I understand why people break quarantine. I’m not sympathetic, but I understand. We’re not used to accepting helplessness. We’re always told we can do something, we can change it, we can fix it, if only we did x or y or z.

I think it’s time to revisit what helplessness means. Because gods know, as individuals we’re helpless to stop the spring from coming. So I’m practicing imagining the discomfort of helplessness as a bud, enclosed in the chill of the wind…

about to turn into a flower, if it can just. hold. on.

* …allergies notwithstanding.