Thursday, July 16, 2020

The First Half

In case you've been hiding under a rock on planet Xenon474, it's kind of been a shitshow since 2020 started. I shan't go into all the worldwide details because I'm preeeeety sure you've actually been here living it like the rest of us. 

The program I work for hosts a cultural trip for the students each semester. Sometimes it's a play or the ballet, but this spring semester it was a several-day trip to Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX, over Spring Break. I don't particularly like to travel and I was also in the final weeks of my own final semester of college, so I opted to stay home from the trip and also took the week off work just to kind of chill a bit. There were mutterings and small news blurbs of a virus teetering on the verge of epidemic, but honestly nothing alarming. Then every day there were more reports and that tiny broken part of my brain where OCD lives took that information and started crocheting a little granny square of panic. Then it started to become more of a tea towel. When I felt like we were reaching afghan of doom territory, I decided to use one of my precious days at home alone to go shopping. I went to Sam's Club, Aldi, and Walmart in Joplin that day. My little red Camry was loaded to the hilt simply because I rarely ever make all three stores in one fell swoop. I didn't overbuy or hoard a thing - the cases of water and toilet paper were just my usual purchases when I shop. I've always been a toilet paper stocker-upper because -- well, I don't know why. It's just security to me. I know, I'm weird. I mean, ya'll pretty much knew this from the start, right? If you didn't, that's probably just on you. I text my coworkers a joking text about how I was shopping and people were kinda crazy, shopping carts were full, crowds were busy and rude. They said Texas was totally normal, you'd never know there was talk of a virus there. 

By the time they got back from the trip things were different. In a matter of a few days it went from quiet murmurings to borderline panic. I went to work that following Monday after Spring Break sick at my stomach, nervous, scared, unsure. Paul didn't want me to go. Hell, I didn't want to go. We had a meeting that morning with the college president who said, "This meeting is out of CDC guidelines and will be our last of this kind." That didn't help my anxiety. I spent the whole meeting trying to focus on his words but instead looking around noticing how many people were touching their faces, how close we were all sitting to each other, and wondering if anyone in the room was infected. It was very surreal. Not long after the meeting our department director called us each in her office individually and asked if we wanted to work from home. I nearly jumped across her desk to embrace her, but thought better of it. When I left that day I didn't return to campus for 10 weeks. My stash of Slim Jims in my desk expired and my trail mix went stale. 

About two weeks into lockdown Paul and I talked and then talked to Abby and Dakota and made the decision to quarantine the girls here with me while the guys hunkered down together at Abby's house. Both guys were essential and were going to be working the whole time and with Abby and Wemberly having asthma, we just didn't want to risk exposure. In a matter of hours, she packed food, clothes, and toys while I did a quick child-proof on the house, packed Paul's bag of clothes, food, and medicines, then sat on the porch crying until they got here. We did that for six weeks. I regret nothing. We existed on Walmart grocery pickup, two Aldi runs by me where I basically wore a beekeeper's suit and sprayed a cloud of Lysol around me the whole time. It wasn't until a month in that we felt brave enough to ev3en do a Sonic run. 

The first week of June the four of us in our department at work started going in and covering the office one day a week each. We mask up, stay to ourselves, and just do our time. School is scheduled to start on-ground mid-August and we've been advised to leave each day like we won't be coming back. I doubt we keep the entire semester on-ground, but given current numbers Oklahoma and Missouri should both be back in lockdown and that hasn't happened yet, so who knows.  

I'm sick of the phrase "new normal," I'm tired of being asked what the semester is going to look like, I'm tired of wondering if every time I get a tickle in my throat I am infected, I am sick of being scared all the time. I'm not tired of not going to Walmart, though. Grocery pickup was my best friend well before this whole shitshow began. Too people-y for sure on any given day. 

Now for cuteness:

Her apples always look like a mouse has gotten hold of them. She just nibbles them to death. 

Wemberly found this rock on Pa-Paul's nightstand the first day they were locked down at my house and she carried it everywhere for a few weeks until she lost it. She slept with it, it took a bath with her, it sat next to her plate while she ate. 

We had many many bed parties while in quarantine. While the mom I was always said no to jumping on the bed, the grandma almost always says yes. ;) 
Running off some energy! 

Every morning while I would work on school work, the girls would get the color. They liked their morning activities much more than I liked mine. 

Family Zoom meetings kept us from feeling completely alone in the world up here on the Mountain. 

Petal's speech therapist was a rockstar on Zoom! Petal hated it and screamed a lot, but they managed to make it through with very little regression. 

Wemberly got a teal streak in her hair just like Momma and Kiki! Is that face not the most precious? 

I told them if they could be responsible and not push any buttons they could
Facetime their Tatty all by themselves. <3 

The wasps coming out when it started warming up kept us inside most days, but occasionally we'd get lucky enough to get to spend some time out on the porch without being under attack. 

While it was certainly not how we had intended to spent six weeks of our spring, I will always remember the time I got with three of my girls. 

My nap buddy every day during quarantine. I loved having that time with just me and her, snuggling, giggling, marveling at the miracle she is. I didn't get to do that with Petal because Petal is a tiny tyrant and pretty much hates me lol. I'm working on her. 

Tatty and Zach surprised us with a window visit one afternoon! 

The Easter Bunny came to the Mountain this year! The candy is always the best part. 

Pa-Paul came up to mow the yard and we had a window visit! 

It was a big deal to get her to pick the pizza up by herself! 
We had a Zoom birthday party for Sammy's girlfriend Maegan since she couldn't party like normal. 

Best helpers! 

So serious

I was editing student papers and watching this insanity unfold before me. 

We pulled Momma's old dollhouse down off the shelf and it was a perfect "new" toy to play with and keep them occupied! 

Petal had never had her toenails painted. She smiled the whole time! 
Wemberly was VERY excited! 

First car ride in over a month! 

The week after the girls moved back home, I finished school and while I didn't get regalia or a ceremony, I dug around in my hope chest and found my mortarboard from high school graduation and plopped it on my head for a selfie. It was a lackluster celebration for a degree that was 29 years in the making, but I still did it and FINALLY finished! 

So here we are, halfway through July, numbers spiking, people arguing, the future very unknown. I'm reviving the blog, writing for the newspaper again, focusing on going back to work and staying safe. I spend a ridiculous amount of money on masks that coordinate with my outfits, and try not to spend every moment of every day in a panic attack. 

Thank you for sticking with me and my sporadic posting. It's a work in progress. I have had this beautiful home on the internet since 2004 and I am ready to come home and settle in again. Blogging is probably a dead art form - or at least the way it used to exist, but I've never been one to do what's "normal" so here I am. Blogging again. Like a boss. 

We....the people

Originally published in The Miami News-Record, July 2020 Everything is different now. I’m not just talking about masks and social distancing...