COVID Confidential: Vol #2

Well, it’s been over a month since Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown enacted the “Stay at Home” aka Shelter in Place rule. Like other states, Oregon and its residents have been enduring the rapid and viciously unpredictable nature of the Coronavirus. Our Portland economy, with its trendy food carts and amazing restaurants are also casualties of the pandemic on life support. Take out, delivery, and other “non dine-in” practices have become the life blood of restaurants fortunate enough to remain open through this critical time. 

Change is hard. Especially when there hasn’t been time to prepare for it. It’s unfathomable that millions of Americans have now filed for unemployment just in these past few weeks. I am fortunate that I am still employed and have the ability to work remotely. That said, I am honestly concerned about the challenges and impacts this now fragile economy will have on the disabled, elderly, minorities, and nonprofit organizations, like the one I work for, as we all wrestle for supplemental funding to keep the doors open. There are no visible instructions kept in a glass case to be suddenly extricated during a pandemic to help guide us through to the other side. It’s usually when people are in a time of need that we look to our experts to provide us with knowledge to help ease our fears and to our leaders to provide a plan to recovery.

I’m frustrated, tired, and anxious. Frustrated because it seems like there’s a constant battle for states to get and receive the necessary tools needed to save lives and protect their citizens. Tired, because I haven’t been able to sleep consistently for about a month now. Last night, Eric and I went to bed about 10pm this evening and around 11:40pm, I woke up. I don’t know why, but here I am at my keyboard at 12:22am. I’m making the best of my “awake” time and have taken a little something to hopefully help lul me back to slumberland. Right now, I’m not tired though I’ve been up since 6am, yesterday morning. I’ve already alluded to the causes of my anxiety and wouldn’t consider myself a nervous person. Although, when I am working on a project, it’s difficult to relax and calm my brain. I always feel like there is some component of the project I’m forgetting, even when I’m not. 

Despite the uncertainty of the day, I know things will definitely get better, it’s just going to take a bit of time. In the meantime, I have been attempting to make the best of our current situation by making people smile. At work, we have our weekly staff meetings on Tuesday mornings. Since we’re all working remotely, our staff meeting has now become virtual. So to spice things up, I wear a wig (#getnwiggywitit) to add a little levity to the morning. I’m not unique in making people smile with wigs. A good friend of Eric and mine is Portland’s iconic drag queen, mistress of ceremonies, and all around queen of hilarity, Poison Waters. Poison has been posting an array of drag looks that leave me chuckling out loud. Granted, she has far more wings, tiaras, and other accoutrement for every occasion. We’re all doing what we can to stay sane and healthy.    

For me, staying healthy has been challenging. I am a creature of habit and working out at the gym has been a part of my daily ritual for as long as I can remember. I go to the gym not just because of the great physical benefits, but also as a stress reliever and social outlet. With the gym now closed, I’ve been forced to get creative with my daily fitness groove with only what Eric and I have on hand at home; a couple of 20 pound dumbbells and a set of push up stands. At the gym, I would spend an hour on the stationary bike, yet I don’t consider myself a cyclist. I’m not a runner either, so the idea of lacing up my shoes and hitting the pavement isn’t appealing with these flat feet of mine. Luckily, I discovered a fitness app on my phone so I’m now discovering exercises I can do from home. It’s not perfect, but I’m improvising like everyone else.

I want to acknowledge that my life has had its share of privilege and that I am fortunate to have a safe and secure space to retreat to with a great support system around me; something that I don’t take for granted. 

Our home is now my workplace, gym, and bar/restaurant that also employs a couple of really handsome chefs (wink). Eric designed this amazing and beautiful space where we’ve now lived for 13 years. It’s now beginning to feel more like a fantasy-like snowglobe, minus the snow and glittery decor. I do love our home, but being anchored here for such an extended period, has forced me to pay more attention to projects that I honestly have pushed off for another day. I know I’m not alone here, there are lots of us that are doing the same thing. Heaven forbid there’s a “Honey-Do” list involved but if we’re going to be tethered somewhere, it might as well be a comfortable place and time well spent. Right? It’s not all work here.There’s also a little entertainment with Pato the cat. The cat really isn’t our cat, it belongs to the neighbors behind our house. They describe him as the neighborhood cat but he has adopted us into his life. Watching Pato chase his toy mouse or sleep on his back brings a smile to my face. 

Finding joy in a time with so much sorrow and anger can be difficult. Especially for anyone who loses a friend or family member in a time of the Covid-19 virus. They must endure an extra layer of grief and may not even get a chance to see their recently departed if a hospital is involved.  We are being asked to navigate uncertain and uncharted waters just to avoid falling into the abyss of humanity. Familiar places where we could come together to find joy and comfort are no longer available to us. We have to reinvent who we are and frequently rely on new and old sources of engagement to cope. Just today, I received an actual phone call from an old friend (not really age old but duration in friendship) who could have easily messaged me via text or social media. It was nice to hear his voice and feel the emotion as we chatted about our current time and past adventures. 

As human beings, we need to be even more patient and compassionate with each other more than ever. Some people are actually doing that too. It’s encouraging to see the numerous Facebook posts and news footage of the support being shown to medical workers for their long shifts and sometimes thankless jobs. Many are forced to separate themselves from their loved ones for an extended time to prevent the potential spread of the virus. Our lives truly are part of a shared experience. An experience where the impacts indiscriminately touch every layer of our society and exposes the stress fractures of a presently tenuous government serving and rewarding the elite, rather than helping everyone rebuild from this historical and unforgettable nightmare.

Thank you to all healthcare workers, first responders, supermarket crews, and truckers for all you do and for going the extra mile! 

#flattenthecurve #coronavirussucks #socialdistancingworks

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