Pandemic life

I’ve been trying to write this post for two months. Remember when blogging was raw and unstructured? Without all the best practices or weekly content prompts, when we LiveJournaled for catharsis before we had an intended audience or shared posts across platforms, complete with hashtags for maximum impact. I don’t really share on social media as much as I used to, I think, maybe because the world just feels too noisy, I can’t get my thoughts straight. I’m not using Twitter at all any longer, most of the people I followed I’d never met in person and whenever I did engage I often found myself feeling angry, depressed, confused, or generally more isolated. I’ve cleaned out my Facebook and Instagram, downloaded the archive file, and deleted almost all of the pictures except for the most recent. I can’t explain why exactly, I just know I suddenly started to feel protective of our memories, almost coveting them, selfishly as if sharing them even with our closest friends somehow diluted them. My guess is that most of these emotions are a response to the bewilderment and anxiety resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Or maybe they’ve been lurking beneath the surface for a while and the pandemic just gave me more time to act on them.

COVID-19 came down on us hard and fast. Liam and I were on Spring break in San Antonio when stirrings officially started here in Texas. A co-worker, who’s husband works for the city of Houston, texted me the second day we were there. She started the text with “don’t panic but” and then proceeded to tell me to keep an eye on things because word was that they were about to start shutting the city down and implementing travel restrictions. Later that day, Liam and I were walking down the Riverwalk and noticed a news broadcast taking place outside a restaurant. While walking by I could hear phrases like “have canceled their event” and “taking precautions”. I wasn’t exactly ready to ruin our Spring Break yet so I tried to continue with our plans without alarming my kid. Which included a visit to Six Flags. Yup. We did that. Not smart, mommy. I was clearly in denial.

A few days before I left for San Antonio, we had a meeting at work about coming up with a contingency plan, just in case. Remember, UHD is located in downtown Houston, everyone else in that meeting managed to survive and pull the library through the traumatic events of Hurricane Harvey. It wasn’t so much that no one was taking this virus thing seriously, they were, it’s just that it didn’t seem like that immediate of a situation. Not like a hurricane. Most of the conversation centered around how everyone else was behaving and by the way, where the hell did all the toilet paper go. Truth is, at the time, my headspace was overwhelmed with daily life. I had work, downtown traffic to fight, a dog to walk, dinner to decide on, a kid to take care.

Anyway, so far we’ve come through just fine. Liam adjusted to school from home relatively well. He missed his friends but he’s also often found school environment to be a bit anxiety-inducing so having the ability to Zoom a class from the comfort of his home, drinking tea while snuggling with our cat Starbuck was a good fit for him. For me, working from home has been surprisingly more productive than I thought it would be. Yes, there are distractions but as long as I keep a project list and daily goals, it works just about the same as it does when I’m in the office. We’ve also, somehow, in the middle of all this, managed to find a house. Liam and I have really liked living in Kingwood and the home we’ve found is actually just a few miles from where we’re renting now. Originally, the idea was for my parents to find a home nearby, but once the pandemic hit, we decided it would probably be a heck of a lot more practical if we just buy one big house that we can all live in. Our closing date is July 17. I’ll share photos when the day gets closer.

Our governor chose to start lifting the pandemic restrictions in May. Overall, I don’t feel that this has been a smart move. We’re now amongst several states who have seen a drastic increase in COVID-19 cases and Houston currently has the highest. I’m apprehensive about the Fall. UHD was due to begin a phased opening last week but there was a change of plans last minute and they’ve decided to postpone opening for now so I’ll probably be working from home until August. I will admit, I am emotionally exhausted from these last few months, in a way that I have never been before. So I’m trying to be gentle with myself but vigilant. Optimistic but realistic.

There have been a lot of walks through the Greenbelt since all this started. As the weeks went by, more and more painted rocks like this would show up, creating some much needed positive energy and thoughts.

Texas COVID-19 Resources

Ready Harris – Harris County Threat Level System On Thursday, June 11th, Harris County announced a new color-coded system to inform residents regarding the current level of risk from COVID-19 and actions we strongly urge residents take to stay healthy, save lives, and ensure our local economy recovers in a way that is sustainable over the long term. As of today, we’re Level 2.

TMC Daily New COVID-19 Hospitalizations Part of Governor Abbott’s rational for opening was based less on the trajectory of COVID-19 cases, and more on the fact that we, at the time, had plenty of ICU beds to accomodate the COVID-19 related hospitalizations. I’ve been using this website to track that. These past two weeks hospitalizations have spiked, moving us into the “moderate concern” zone.

Texas Coronavirusm Map and Case Count (NYT) Although I still tend to use the dashboard to track overall case count, I still find this source from the New York times to be useful as a quick reference.

Try Something New

In an effort to help Liam deal with the boredom of enduring summer vacation under pandemic restrictions, I’ve been looking into various online courses for him to pass the time. Today Liam took a one hour workshop through Outschool on LGBTQ+ Pride and History for Teens and he really enjoyed it.

They have many courses in several different traditional disciplines, and also some incorporating fun topics like Minecraft, Dungeons and Dragons and Harry Potter. There are also several focusing on relevant, timely topics like LGBTQ+ and #BlackLivesMatter.

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