Tag Archives: social isolation

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 41 – 46

I am not an idiot.  I watch the news.  I ordered my face masks, and one has been delivered.  I know that this shit is real.  But I have been fortunate, in that personally, other than working from home and not being able to move around as freely as I have been in the past, but it has affected me, personally, very little.

Until this week.

This week Ormsby was laid off due to the virus.  And you know what’s ridiculous?  I’m not even surprised.  His industry has been hit very hard by the whole thing, and honestly I’ve been surprised that he’s been able to hold out this long.  Most others in his industry lost their jobs – or began not being able to find freelance opportunities – months ago.  In a way he’s been lucky… and it’s shitty to call all this lucky.  I do not know what he will do – he has a place of his own, a lease he can’t break, and even if he could… well… my apartment isn’t big enough for two people and (as awful as it is to say this, I know), I kind of am enjoying having a space of my own again.  He’ll file for unemployment and then… I don’t know… I guess no one knows anything.

I still have my job, and we are as busy as ever.  That’s a good thing.

They tested one of my cousins for the virus yesterday.  Thankfully that test came back negative.  But it was another reminder that I’ve been fortunate (and continue to be fortunate) when other families – some I’ve known since I was a small child – have not been.

I’m sorry.  I know I’ve been trying to put a positive spin on all of this… and I’ll keep trying to do that.  I guess everyone gets an off day once in a while.

Florida’s governor has decided to try Phase I of reopening.  I am personally going to continue to self-isolate for a while longer.  I want to see what happens as things get back to normal… I am not convinced that this is done, and I think, if anything, reopening this soon may make it worse.  In fact, I am more likely, now, to start doing grocery delivery, whereas I haven’t resorted to that yet.

Good Stuff That Happened:

My Build-A-Bear Baby Yoda (ok, ok “The Child”) arrived today.  The Star Wars collection that graces my living room now has its own Baby Yoda shelf.  The action figures I preordered should ship later this month.

I think Ormsby and I are going to turn my apartment into a photo studio this weekend to start working on a new portfolio for me.  It’ll keep his mind off of it, and give me a boost, now that I’m moving more normally again.

Today begins Children’s Week in WoW.  It’s a special in-game holiday for me, because it also marks 12 years since I first was introduced to the game.  Happy WoW-versary to me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a book to write.  Or maybe just an in-game achievement to go for.

IMG_3174

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 37-40

I’d say I have an above average memory — one that can span all the way back to near infancy, in some places.  I mean I don’t actively remember every second of every day, though if I think back hard enough to what I call the “major” landmarks, I can start building out what I remember around them and connect them with days prior to and days after that “landmark” event.  It’s why I say I don’t “actively” remember things – I think the data is still there, it’s just buried in all the other shit my brain has to sift through on a daily basis.

Anyway, point being, I’ve been basically isolated from other humans, places other than my home (except the grocery store and the path that I walk every day), for over a month now.  I only see Ormsby (rarely) and my cats.  If I talk to anyone it’s via phone, text, or instant messenger.  That’s it.  And this isn’t a complaint.  It’s been quiet, I’ve gotten a lot of stuff done that I probably ordinarily would not have made time for.  In some ways, I’m living my best life right now.

What I’m getting at here, though, is that because it is so unusually quiet, and because there is not anything that ties me to the “here” (and, in fact, it is really easy to lose track of what day or time it is), I’m finding it easier to really immerse myself into the books I’ve been planning (and writing) for a really long time.  See, although I’m going to change the names of places, people, etc., I’m pulling all of what’s in there right out of my own memory.   They are prequels, really, to what I’ve written here over the years — what came before… what was FIRST.

It’s all there – it always has been – plotted out on paper, outlined, archives in place to jog my memory… but now, with the world so much quieter and so much slower, I can actually make some progress.  I can… well.. vanish… back into those times.  I can live in them again (and I’m being really careful to revisit only the good stuff right now – even I know better than to dredge through the bad shit when there’s nothing out there to wake myself back up again).  A world without COVID, without bills, where I was mercilessly naive (and that makes me laugh now) and trying to navigate a world I didn’t understand, but was fascinated with.  I get to turn all this over again and look at it and I realized, as I was walking today and thinking about what I was writing, I’m really watching myself transform into what I am now.  It’s fascinating.

To, I have to dig deep, in some ways, because I’m talking about pulling up shit that happened to me over twenty years ago now.  In so much detail that whoever reads these things will SEE these people.  Will HEAR their voices.  Will SMELL and FEEL what I did.  I’m resurrecting ghosts, in a way (even if not all of them are dead), and to do anything less doesn’t feel like I am doing those people, or those places, or those times (or myself) the justice that they deserve.  At any rate, when I get to the place I need to be, it’s like there are voices from the past echoing off my walls.  Conversations that I now remember verbatim that I could not easily access before.  And instead of freaking out over whether that stuff is still there and what I’ll do if it isn’t, I’m trusting that it will be there when I need it… and so far, they have been.

It will still be months (years, even) before this is finished.  Though if I keep writing like this, maybe not so long.  It is, after all, hard to convince myself to leave, sometimes, and come back into this other reality.

Good Stuff:

  • Really more of the same — though I am finding that this has been a really creative time for me.  I had worried that I was losing my touch.  Turns out, I just needed some quiet.
  • My knee is really recovering!!  I’m not running yet (and may not for quite a while), but can now consistently walk at my brisk speed-walking pace for 2.5 miles.  Daily.  I’m working back up to three, which was where I was at prior to the injury.  I can’t credit COVID for all of this, because this has been 2+ years coming (with many physical therapy sessions, multiple cortisone injections, plus an expensive, out of pocket, experimental procedure that apparently worked (PRP Injection)), but my need to get out of the house every day has made me want to prolong the time I spend out there rebuilding this thing… and I may very well come out of this a totally recovered woman.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 17-25

I guess this is going to end up being a weekly thing instead of a daily thing. That’s fine. Seriously. Nothing exciting happens day-to-day that is worth recording except that I wear a different t-shirt every day (yes, I’m still getting dressed… but I wear my yoga pants during the day).

The Sourdough turned out pretty good for the first time out. The finished product was a little floury, a little crumbly… I am not sure whether it’s because I used too much flour, or used all-purpose instead of bread flour. Regardless, it made AMAZING toast… garlic or regular… butter both sides, bake it at 400 for 10 minutes, flip it, do the other side… (sprinkle garlic salt on each side in the last 3-4 minutes of cooking). HEAVEN.

The starter is built back up enough to try it again this weekend (that’s one of the things on my list to do tomorrow), and I’m nearly out of the loaves I made last weekend, so I’m going to try it with those two modifications.

Ormsby managed to find some flour in Bradenton last week, too, and brought that up for me on Saturday. I wasn’t out, exactly, but I was running low and, at the time, couldn’t find anything except the little bags, and I thought finding those were an accomplishment. Just glad they didn’t put a limit on how much of that I can have. At least not yet.

Milo had some kind of urinary event last weekend that ended with my taking him to the veterinary urgent care. I didn’t even know there was such a thing… I knew there were hospitals, and those cost a goddamn fortune, but I had no idea there were literal urgent care clinics for animals. Anyway, I couldn’t go in with him so I had to wait outside and take care of it all over the phone. It was bizarre, but I was told he behaved. They don’t think he had a UTI and he didn’t have a blockage… they think stress, probably from all the change. The only thing I can think of that’s changed is that I’m here all the time. I guess I stress him out? Huh…

Still playing WoW. I read someone actually finished all of the achievements in the game the other day – basically beating the entire game. I was mildly jealous, but also glad that I have… something… of a life. I mean it’s not much, but I do play other games. And I write. Sometimes, when there’s not the Plague, I run around… go places… have fun… speaking of which I am still kind of pissed that the 90s party got canceled, but am at the same time glad I didn’t splurge on stuff for it, since now it probably isn’t going to happen.

Wonder if the Toy show that’s supposed to go on next month will still happen… if the shelter at home order is extended, probably not. I really don’t need anymore toys… I have some on preorder that I haven’t even technically paid for yet…

Oh well. Still healthy. Still isolated. Still haven’t run out of TV to binge watch or WoW achievements to get. I’m good.

Daily Developments:

  • Sourdough starters – if I keep feeding it, I may never be without bread again. There are other things to do with the starter that I found, too, that might be delicious… pancakes.. muffins…popovers… it seems the list is neverending.
  • My leg (the one that had the knee injury) is still slowly getting back to normal, but I’ve noticed that it’s starting to want to behave in ways it hasn’t before. I’ve been using this time to really stretch it (since I can’t go to the gym) and build the elasticity back in it. Getting there.
  • The Hilton Doubletree has released its Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, thanks to the Coronavirus. Disney released its Churro and Dole Whip recipe. I’m not saying that I want this to continue, but from a culinary perspective, this has been a very productive time.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • My sister posted photos of my youngest niece playing with a frog. Like, literally letting this giant frog climb all over her head, ride around in her pocket, and even one where she was kissing it. I didn’t see them until close to midnight and I was almost asleep — then I laughed so hard that I couldn’t go back to sleep right away. Her kids are the best.
  • Speaking of, my family is still healthy. All of them. Even my grandma, who is in the nursing home. That’s definitely something.
  • Finished reading “The Rise of Skywalker” yesterday. Couldn’t put it down — I haven’t obsessively watched that movie (only a time or two when it was out), so reading the book was actually much better. I had forgotten some parts, and it wasn’t just a rehashing of what I’d already basically memorized. Now that it’s over, I’ve ventured into Clone Wars.

COVID-19 Chronicles: Days 4-6

On Friday, I drove down to Bradenton to see Lord Ormsby. We practiced social distancing from within his apartment, except for when we used my car to go get him some supplies so that he doesn’t have to take his motorcycle for multiple trips to the grocery store (since it doesn’t haul as much as my bug does).

What’s nice about Ormsby’s place is that it is right next to Bradenton’s Riverwalk so, while the beaches were closed, we could still get outside and take a walk and enjoy some of the sunshine. I had no idea how nice that strip of walkway was… water on one side, landscaping and benches on the other, a marina so that you can look at all of the yachts that you’ll never be able to afford (and think how effective it must be to social distance on one of those things). We also discovered that he lives super close to an ice cream/smoothie place. We didn’t get any that day, but it’d a nice little tidbit of information to have in your back pocket for a later time.

The grocery stores are civil – some are more crowded than others – and depending on what time you go, different things are available (but not toilet paper). I finally found the rice I was looking for today when I went on a whim. Also got some deli ham (they’re putting it in regular ziploc bags now because they are out of their other ones) and some salad mix. The ham and cheese sandwich I had today hit the spot.

Tampa’s mayor was reported to have said that she is considered a lockdown of our county if the governor doesn’t lock down the state first. I expect that will likely be announced sometime tomorrow afternoon at the earliest. I told Ormsby that if there is a state lockdown and if he is not expected to work, then he is welcome to come here for the duration – since it will be a LONG quarantine for him to be stuck in a place with no internet or cable and a handful of dvds. I also told him to bring his own toilet paper.

Lots of domestic disturbances at my complex today… and I live in a nice area of town. People haven’t been stuck inside for even a week and they’re already starting to lose their shit. I can’t imagine what this is going to be like if things really do lock down, and sincerely hope this does not become some new nationwide rendition of “The Shining.”

At any rate, I got one more (large) bag of cat food today – they aren’t going to need food for another five months at this rate (which is fine with me… better safe than sorry, since I can’t get their food at a normal grocery store), and there’s not much else that I can do to be prepared at this point, so I guess whatever happens, happens.

Back in my good old Kentucky home, my parents’ church suspended its services for the first time in living memory. Their minister apparently delivered his sermon (like so many others have) via Facebook – this was a big deal, though, because their congregation is older and slower to change (though I think by now even the oldest ones have a Facebook account).

Daily Developments:

  • Ohio and Louisiana are the latest two states to enact the stay-at-home orders, joining a handful of other states.
  • Many of the Florida beaches are finally closed.
  • Miami Beach hotels are supposed to close on Monday.
  • The Hard Rock Hotel and Casinos here in Tampa finally made the decision to close – that’s the biggest deal because they probably had the most traffic now that Disney and Universal have been closed for so long.
  • Grocery store shelves are still pretty picked over when you go there, but they are better in the morning.

Things I’m Happy About:

  • I am playing a ton of World of Warcraft – more than I’ve played in years. The servers are getting populated again, now that no one has anything else to do, and I’m getting achievements that I’ve “not had time” to try for in a while… also I’m unlocking all the flying that I said I’d never actually do on principle because it was too difficult (but you know… now I have time… so…)
  • I have rice.
  • The book I’ve been wanting to read since the summer (“The Phantom Prince” by Elizabeth Kendall, about Ted Bundy) finally came off hold for me today… I’ve been on a list for freaking ever to read this one. This could not have come at a better time, since I am now stuck home for the foreseeable future.
Bradenton Riverwalk – Butterfly Garden
Bradenton Riverwalk
Bradenton Riverwalk

COVID- 19 Chronicles: Day 2

Spent some time today going over my quarantine rations, taking stock of what I’ve eaten (so I know what I need to replace) and what is in the weekly Publix ad.  I’ll probably go grocery shopping tomorrow.

Work was mostly business as usual, but had some fairly moderate computer issues throughout the day.  Nothing I couldn’t resolve, but I definitely got tired of putting in my Multi-Factor authenticator throughout the day.

I think I’ve found my “background noise” routine – Bay News 9 in the morning, followed by the daily Friends marathon on TBS in the afternoon.  I don’t really watch it, per se, because I am actually working, but it was especially helpful today since the only other ambience was the sound of the leaf blowers and lawn mowers outside, cutting the grass in the complex. 

There’s not a lot of news to report today on my front – I mean for the most part, I get up, I work from home, then I log off and think about what I’m going to have for dinner.  I have a lot of chicken that I need to use, but I don’t really want chicken tonight.  I’ve been considering freezing it, actually, so that it’ll keep longer and I can thaw and use it as I need it. 

At any rate, there’ll probably be more to report tomorrow since it’ll be the first time I’ve left my house since Monday night.  I’m curious to see what the stores look like now.

Daily Developments:

  • I am pretty sure my cats have no idea what is going on, but they seem to be over the moon that I no longer get up in the morning only to leave the house for the whole day.  They take turns sitting in my lap and “helping” with my work duties.
  • The government is talking about implementing a stimulus of some sort.  Compared to the amount of money people are losing on a daily basis as jobs are cut and new work in skilled fields (such as the AV/Entertainment industry) is hard to find, whatever they send out will be a drop in the bucket, but it will help a little… probably.

Things I’m happy about:

  • I still have chocolate chip cookies.
  • I actually slept last night (without drugs).
  • I managed to fix some computer issues today and sent a report to our IT department, so they knew how to help people troubleshoot.
  • I may FaceTime with my nieces tonight.  😊

COVID-19 Chronicles: Day 1

I realize that COVID has been a thing for months now… but it’s affected me, personally, very little, except that I decided early on that this could be really bad and that I should probably go out and make sure my stock of cold medicines and tissues was stable.  I bought one package of toilet paper then (but because I was basically out) and a little bit of food, but left it at that because things hadn’t blown up in the US yet and I wanted to see what would happen.

As the news got worse, and it made its way over here, I’ve spent the last four weeks stocking up on non-perishable food items (they’ll also last through hurricane season), stuff I’ll want if I do get sick, and food and litter for the cats.  I was comfortably prepared for this thing before it got ridiculous.  I am proud of that.

Two weeks ago, at work, the order came for us to start preparing to work from home – there was no word on whether we actually would, but they wanted us to test our connections and apps to make sure we could if we had to.  Yesterday the order came for us to begin remote-working today, so this is it.

Working from home is not so bad.  I made the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made in my life on Saturday night, with some left over to snack on (and they need to be – their shelf life is only about 5 days).  I get up and log in at my normal time (around 6:45), but I do it in my fuzzy socks and with one of the cats in my lap periodically.  I miss my work friends, but I am also really digging getting to hang out with the cats all day, so I guess it’s the ultimate trade off.

Social isolation is not difficult for a lifelong introvert… I guess you could say that, in a way, I’ve been rehearsing for this my whole life.  Granted, I’ve gotten better about my introversion over the years, but I also have absolutely no qualms about binge watching an entire television series or playing four straight hours of World of Warcraft and getting achievements that I just don’t have time to go for during normal periods of my life.

I am, of course, worried about my family – but, most of them live in a very small town in a rural area.  They are pretty social within the confines of that town, however, people in that town don’t travel much and it’s not a bustling tourist destination.  You could argue that they practice a less extreme form of social isolation all the time.  And I call them pretty much daily now so I know they’re ok.

At any rate, because I find myself with more “downtime” than I am accustomed to and because I am a historian (seriously, I have a degree in this) with a fascination for social history and change – and in a weirdly twisted way, I am flattered to be living in the middle of it – I’ve decided to chronicle this all here.

I’m not doing this because I’m anticipating getting a lot of hits… I would imagine WordPress (among other sites) is FULL of posts like mine right now… (probably from people that are a whole lot worse off and, by proxy, more interesting) but because I really want to be able to come back to this someday and read about it all. If you do decide to join me for this series, please note that I’m not going to be getting engaged in scientific discussions (I am not qualified), nor political ones (not qualified for that either).  I think the best thing we can do for ourselves now, and for each other, is to remain as positive as we can.  And that’s what I’ll be doing.

With any luck, I’ll be able to post daily (or semi-daily).

Daily Developments:

  • Florida’s Primary elections are still taking place.  This is a big deal because other states have changed the date of theirs.
  • Tampa’s bars and clubs are closed. Restaurants are limited to 50% capacity (and are urging takeout).
  • People are still coming down here for Spring Break, which I find odd, but y’all also help ensure we don’t pay state income tax, so thanks.
  • The Clearwater Pier was recently closed (but the beach is still open)… South Beach, I hear, is closed, though.

Things I’m happy about:

  • I have food… enough to last through hurricane season if I’m careful.
  • Milo spent a good half of the day in my lap. He spent part of it watching a webinar.  If this is my new “normal” for work, I’ll take it.
  • Grocery stores here are still pretty much stocked with everything (except toilet paper and hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soap)… so I can easily replace what I consume. This is what I plan to do until this either ends or I get sick and have to quarantine myself.  If I have to quarantine myself, I have enough supplies to get by on until that quarantine period ends.
  • I still have a job – seriously… I’ve already seen one major recession in my adult life, and I was unemployed and basically homeless during that one. I am thankful, THANKFUL that I have work, and that my employer lets me work from home instead of forcing me on furlough, and also that my rent is reasonable since I moved to another area of town.

— ‘Till tomorrow.