Funk

Upgraded tank.

The other day Kevin and I went on a bagel trek to Frederick, MD- its about 18 miles from us.  For some reason the local Panera has closed. I have not been able to find real bagels other than Panera. I am not sure of the details of their closure but I wanted “real” bagels and I wanted to get out of this house for a bit- so off we went.

I know this probably was not an essential trip – though it was tied in with getting chicken feed and meal worms- and I really wasn’t keen on going so far for bagels but we did.  Wanting real bagels is not a real problem – i can hold out and eat toast or english muffins..but for me the bagels are just a way to feel some normalcy again. Get in the car, stop at Starbucks—get a coffee — grab some bagels from Panera– grab other essentials.  On Saturday AM when I realized the Panera closest to us was closed I was bummed because in my head when I woke I had that task in my head. We get to go get bagels. I needed to feel “normal”—so we went a bit further to Frederick to get them.

What is not normal is that when you leave your house you now carry a face mask, maybe protective gloves, you probably have hand sanitizer in your car and some lysol wipes or something like that.

Sometimes it can almost feel normal on the way to run an errand. .Kevin and I can chat and listen to music. We notice the lack of traffic but we can be in a bubble for a while that feels almost normal.  I love that feeling! But then we pull up to the shopping center and there is a line at the Aldi’s grocers. People stand six feet apart, donning masks (some gloved) all waiting their turn to get in because now we cannot just walk in to a store – there are limits to how many can go in- if you can go in at all.

At Panera a few doors down from Aldi- they are doing curbside pick-up.  It is convenient- but so impersonal. And it has to be for everyone’s safety. It sucks but needed. I thanked the young woman who handed over the bag of bagels to me. I had my mask on because she came to my side of the car. I tried to look grateful with my eyes as I told her to stay safe. I then complimented her on her mask fabric choice. It was cute…. but then I said “I can’t believe I am complimenting you on a mask”.  She said ” I know crazy , right?”  and we went on our way.

I am not sure if my funk began then because this is crazy-  or maybe it had been festering over these last couple weeks.  Things feel off for me.  Maybe it is because I am so over this whole thing – but I know this virus will not be over us for a good while.  We also found out my son in the Navy has been quarantined with his division because someone got Covid-19. My other two kids are out of work because of the shutdowns. Also, my horse is acting a bit off.  And I setup a new bigger fish tank and transferred our current fish- which were Navy son’s- and two didn’t live- too much shock. Such a small thing – I know. But flushing those two fish just made me feel crummy. Who knows what pushes us into the funk. I mean the virus is enough. Seeing the suffering is enough.  There is nothing I can do to stop this thing. Lack of control is scary.

I think maybe it is really dawning on me that the world as we knew it is now gone – and life has changed for good.  Like my life before and after my cancer – there is a definite division.  At least for a while things will be quite different for the world  in how we interact in public.

It is hard to watch the suffering every day. It is hard to feel at the mercy of something you can’t even see.  What will the toll to human life be?  There are so many ways  this virus can devastate us including death.  We see the toll rise each day.  And there will be a balance on how things progress to reopening – so we can hopefully live life again- on the other side of the divide.

So today I am in a funk. Some days it is just really hard….its normal to feel these feelings. This isolation takes it’s toll. The financial worries take their tolls. If you are feeling badly never be afraid to reach out to someone for help.  Even a chat with a friend can be comforting.

I do understand that this has happened before over and over throughout history – we have many before’s and after’s, the Spanish flu, world wars, natural disasters , 9-11…. We are human- and we adapt.  But it is jarring and a change – a new shift in what we knew as reality. So it is stressful and scary. And on some days very overwhelming- I just want to pull the covers over my head and sleep- so I can forget for a while.

Instead, I write.

 

 

 

 

Zoom Trivia Night- during a Pandemic

Zoom meetingZOOM- whenever I hear that name  I think of the song from the long ago show by the same name. “We’re gonna Zoom , Zoom, Ah Zoom. We’re gonna Zoom ah, Zoom ah, Zoom. Come on give it a try…We’re gonna tell you just how…” I think that is how it went anyway.  Anyone remember that? Clearly Zoom was named by a much younger generation who did not know this show ever existed. Oh the limits we had on TV in the olden days!

Well , we Zoomed the other night! Yes we did. AND we did it with friends! We had a Zoom Trivia night. I have been seeing many Zoom gatherings lately posted on social media. My husband went to a work happy hour on Zoom. He said it was pretty cool.

Last week we took a Zoom stretching class with a trainer (who is also my sister-in-law).  It was fun! Well as fun as stretching can be when you have become rather inflexible! I have also gone to church services on Zoom. I think during this time this is a much needed outlet for people.  I am grateful to my friend Pastor Tom Atkins for having these intimate sessions.

I had been missing game nights that we had begun to have with our family and friends over the last six months or so and I was missing connecting with humans. Texting is one thing but seeing people and talking to them is another.  I  was also hoping to feel semi-normal for a bit- everything is so off kilter now. But I suppose there is nothing normal about Zoom parties – or maybe a few weeks ago it was not a regular thing to do- but the world has changed in a short time. I just wanted a distraction for a bit from the pandemic.

So I decided it might be fun to host a Zoom game night.  I was and am a novice to Zoom but decided to tackle it and create a meeting. It is not too hard. But a couple things I didn’t know cropped up. One thing I learned was that it we were limited to 40 minutes per meeting only so I had to upgrade to a plan that can be cancelled any time. The cost is $14.99 a month. This way I could have unlimited time for my meeting and up too 100 friends. Which was not the number we would have for the game night!

Once the meeting was created I needed to decide what games to play. I also welcomed input from those invited.   I googled the phrase “Zoom game night ideas” and got a lot of hits.  There are a lot of drinking games- sounded fun – but I was not looking for that.  There was a form of bingo and Pictionary and much more.  Feeling a bit overwhelmed I decided to keep it simple. Trivia. All invitees agreed.

Trivia it was but then we had to decide how to play it. I found a phone app that all attendees  could have logged on to and played together while we were on Zoom – but I wanted to try it out first because I didn’t want it to be like we would be on our phones more than we were interacting via the video app. The idea was to socialize- I can play Words With Friends whenever.

In the end I just asked everyone to bring some form of trivia questions to the meeting. And it was BYOB – haha.  Everyone was able to access the meeting pretty easily. We made introductions as we had a mix of friends and family playing. Then we decided how to play because I wasn’t sure of a proper format. Should it be teams or individuals.

We decided one person would read the questions and we would be teams and would have mini-games.  One person would read out the questions for that game. Each game consisted of ten questions.  Teams could discuss questions privately after each question was read as there is a mute feature. We made a 30 second time limit to get answers written down but really never needed that. Then we would score our answers and I kept tally. We played about 5-6 games.

It was great fun! We shared our guesses before we were told the answers.  We had a lot of laughs. We had 9 people total (our teen niece did opt out after a bit- understandably!). I did learn some things-

  1. Zoom meetings gives one a reason to shower, blow-dry and put on makeup for the occasion.  One sister-in-law thanked me for having the game night as it made her shower. I put on make-up – this was  because it was a rare social event and it made me feel normal getting ready -like I was going out. Except I wore Pjs to the event! My girlfriend that came posted that she was primping for  the event!  Oh what our world has become!
  2. As people had their adult beverages the talking got louder and it was a bit harder to communicate. But it was a lot of laughs!
  3. Live music is an added bonus. My very talented BIL Pat played a couple songs on his guitar.
  4. Zoom has the option of changing your background and honestly you could have a whole party dedicated to adding funny backgrounds behind you!
  5. It is something I definitely needed.

We plan to host another Zoom game night soon.  I really needed to feel connection with others (as many can relate to this) and maybe for a couple hours forget the stress and sadness that all the news from the virus brings. This is an unprecedented  and scary time but we are lucky to have the ability to connect in this way.  It doesn’t replace real human connection but it was very uplifting for me and my mom and husband.  For a while it was just fun and laughs –  and I got tidied up. So that’s something!

 

Navy Son- Part 2- How we got here…

My son has been at the Navy training center for about a week now.  He is in quarantine as is the protocol at the moment for new recruits.  We did get word yesterday that a recruit in training tested positive for Covid-19 and had been placed in isolation.  I can’t imagine getting that call as a parent – but it is a reality we have to consider.  The Navy is making changes daily to it’s normal procedures and it can be frustrating but it is understandable that they are dealing with something never conceived of (a world crisis of this magnitude) and they are trying to adjust as best as they can.

As a parent of a Seaman Recruit  (SR) it is not easy when there is so much in flux and all I can do is remind myself that my kid is in good and capable hands. They will care for him if gets ill, they are caring for him now.  Over time I have come to an acceptance of my son’s decision to join the Navy- it didn’t happen overnight. But I have gotten there.

When my son first said he wanted to join the Navy he was a senior in high school that was in 2018.  I was not a fan. Kevin and I both encouraged him to apply to college and maybe do ROTC or apply to the Navy after he graduated.  I think at the time I thought it was an idea that came with not much thought or it was a fantasy of an immature kid. Like when he was little and wanted to be superman. Though he did wear out two pair of superman sneakers over the years! But still I felt that he wasn’t mature enough to make a decision as big as joining  the military.  He also mentioned  that he wanted to be a police officer- which again we suggested he wait on. I think in our parent point of view we thought getting a college degree would be best. 

He did a year in a university  – and never pursued ROTC- but then at the end of his freshman year decided to change to a major (criminal justice) they didn’t have at the university he was attending so he withdrew from there and decided to live at home with us and he began local community college last fall. 

I could tell he was not thrilled going to those classes. And I could tell by the amount of gaming he did that he wasn’t studying. His heart was not into it. I was beginning to realize it was a waste of money if he didn’t have a desire to be in college. That’s when during yet another discussion about drive and motivation and his future he brought up the Navy again. And again I admit I wasn’t a fan. He wondered out loud why I was so against  him joining the military since my stepfather was a career Navy pilot and made it to captain. My son had heard some stories about my stepfathers career – teaching young Navy pilots to fly on and off the carriers at night, fought in two wars.  To me that didn’t extrapolate into my kid enlisting. I wasn’t a Navy kid or considered myself part of a Navy family.  My mom married into one when I was a young adult. So I didn’t feel a pull to have my kids join. Do not get me wrong. I was thankful for my stepfathers service andI am so thankful for all military service men and women. I just wasn’t sure I wanted MY kid to be part of the military. I was scared. And I still am. 

I told him that if he wanted to join the Navy he needed to do all the work himself – because normally he needed my help to figure most things out for him, jobs, banking , school admin issues etc.   I decided that if he was really serious about the Navy he had to do it on his own. I was not going to facilitate it. If he went and hated it later  he only had himself to blame. And I figured since I left it up to him he would not do anything about it.

I was wrong. Within a day he had a meeting with the local recruiter in nearby Frederick, MD. And that morphed into more meetings and once he was told he was eligible he went to officially sign-up. I have to admit I was not a fan still. My anxiety about it ramped up. But since he seemed so excited- and he rarely gets excited by much – I wanted to be excited for him. We looked over the jobs he could choose from based on his testing scores. 

He chose cryptology- but then when he went to our local MEPS (the place where you they do recruit processing) the job wasn’t available. Kind of a bait and switch? But I realized later he could have waited for that job to come open but he wanted to leave sooner than later…so he chose a job in a Sub. Missile tech to be exact. Holy cow this freaked me out because  just the week before he said he didn’t want subs and I was happy with that. Then he picked subs!  He told my husband he did exactly the opposite of what he had said he wasn’t going to do. But he had had options and he could have waited. So I guess this is something he wanted to do. Or he thought he did. Or he was being a teen.  I really lost my cool when I found out he chose subs- first I was mad …then I sobbed- I am sure this was me letting out all the anxiety I had been having over his decision to go to the Navy- I will say I was going through some seasonal effective depression when this all occurred so I think my reaction was more dramatic because of this. But a Sub- 800 ft underwater….why?

I could not speak to him for like two days. I hated myself for this. I read up on subs and saw he could be under the ocean for ten weeks…with no contact. I felt claustrophobic for him. A projection onto him of my issues of enclosed spaces. But I also began reading about subs. I do tend to research things – probably more than my child did.  I am sure I do this as a way to come to terms with things. The more knowledge the better I am able to process things.

In my research I read about some of the scary tests they have to perform in sub school (where he will go after he passes bootcamp).  My kid doesn’t swim well ( I am told they will teach him to be a better swimmer in bootcamp) and they have a test where four of them have to go through a sub hatch in a simulation of a sub escape. They wear air filled plastic bags (I am sure it is more technical than this) over their heads and float to the surface. They have a room flood while they fix equipment, they have fire simulation. Oh Lord!  But the more I read the more I saw that the testing is obviously important  and they want them to pass so they help them to get there. And if there are issue like severe claustrophobia then they will help them move to another job not in a sub.  But most important I read about the camaraderie that builds among the soldiers in subs and on ships, and the sense of pride these seamen have for their Navy, and their country, and themselves. He needed this. 

My son needed a direction, he needed to find something that could build his confidence, and he needs friends.  If he feels that this is the vehicle to him finding himself who cares if it comes before , after or instead of college -and there are many benefits to being in the military as far as schooling goes.  It has taken time for me to wrap my mind around all this. The positives and the negatives, the risks and rewards.  It was never a case of me letting him join the military. If this is what he truly wanted then I wasn’t going to stand in his way. But I know he wanted and needed my approval. He wanted to know I was proud of him.  I have settled into the fact that my kid wants this and he needs it.  I am very proud of him and I have told him that many times.  But it doesn’t mean I am not scared too.  It is very hard not to be during this pandemic. 

My son once told me he rather live a shorter life helping others than a longer life not doing so. That is sobering coming from such a young person.  It may have been a thought of an immature young man not realizing his mortality but it was one of the most authentic and honest things he has ever said to me.  It makes me sad too- because of course I want him to have long beautiful life so his discussing his mortality at all is not easy. But I believe he feels a call to service of others. And if that calling was to join the Navy than I now call myself a proud mom of a Navy recruit. And will try to navigate my own fears as I root him on  -and – I let him go on his life’s journey.

I just miss him.

Isolation

img_1325

The fields behind our house. Ever so thankful we have this place to walk.

Right now I am pretty much isolating from other humans aside from my family…what a difference two weeks makes! I was on vacation and now we now have this pandemic upon us –Covid-19. So scary.

The last time I wrote I was on vacation.  We took the trek down south. My laptop broke somewhere during that trip -so I didn’t continue to write. Then we arrived home and literally the world changed – and writing about my trip seems really trite and un-important now.

When we left for the trip I was leery about the virus. At that moment it was isolated in Washington state and maybe a couple other places where people from the cruise ships were being quarantined.  But still I watched the news closely as we went south to Florida and then back up north. I was pretty nervous.

When we got to Orlando – our fifth stop- I was burned out.  I planned the trip with too many stops – too many in and out of hotels or AirBNBs – too much lugging of bags and stuff in and out of rooms. SO in Orlando — which is a sea of humans! – all of Florida is a sea of humans- I am sorry it just too many humans in one place for me- the traffic was awful. I am just a country bumpkin from MD. So I am just complaining. You Floridians are just used it.  Anyway in Orlando we had a great AirBNB – we chilled – we said no to the parks (virus potential) – we sat at the pool on one warm day (we brought cool weather with us)  – and we played some pickleball. Good day. Found a nice dining area with many places to eat. We really took a few days to relax and that was good.

We then travelled north from Orlando with stops in Savannah- nice but I like Charleston better – and then to Virginia Beach-where we saw a very close friend – I am so glad for this visit because it might be a while until I see her again. After Virginia Beach we headed home.

It was within about 48 hours after we got home that things began to get worse with the virus in the US. And that’s when we found out my brother-in-law who was in Spain was ill with the virus. That made things super real. He is recovering and is well cared for in Spain and he and his wife should be home soon-not sure about their ability to get flights home- they are making the best of a very tough situation.

Last weekend- was it last weekend – seems like eons ago now -we were going to head to the beach for the weekend –  I woke the day we were to leave and just had a feeling we should stay home. It was just a gut thing so we decided to postpone the trip. Within the next 48 hours businesses in Maryland began to close and people asked to social distance – work from home – schools were cancelled. I think for most people this was quite a shock.

For us staying isolated was not a hard choice- it may be hard on some days but it is necessary.  My 78 year old mother lives with us and has health issues. She was in the hospital and then rehab over 6 weeks last fall. When she gets ill she gets ill. We have to keep her safe.

In my home the soap, sanitizer and wipes are used all the time. I have always been a hand washer – because living with farm animals requires getting into muck so you wash a lot. But I have really ramped it up more. Yesterday I had to visit a medical office and when I got home I removed my shoes to be washed – washed my hands -and changed clothing  and washed my hands again.  Overkill?  Maybe- but I would rather be safe – for my mother’s sake.

I read an article in The Atlantic this AM that pointed out that this thing we are all doing individually is also a thing we are all doing collectively.  All of us making sacrifices to hopefully save lives. This isn’t an easy thing to stop life as we know it. We Americans are used to our freedoms. We aren’t used to being made to hunker down, to social distance. It has taken some longer than others to get on-board but when you see the increasing numbers of sick and the numbers of deaths each day you realize this is truly for the greater good of our country.

My Nana used to tell me about her brother dying of Pneumonia when he was only about 21 years old. The story was he walked a girl home in the pouring rain in Brooklyn, NY and took sick the next day and never recovered. This was never mentioned to me as the Flu Pandemic of 1918- but later when we talked about Great Uncle Joseph dying my mother said that it was- in fact -during that time.  I just remember how my Nana still hung on to that loss deep inside. The brother that never got to be a man.

Recently I read and article about this Flu Pandemic of 1918, that said “By the time it wound down in 1919, 28% of all Americans were infected and 675,000 had died — 10 times as many as World War I.” (see footnote below).  This is very sobering.

I never thought in my lifetime I would be dealing with a Pandemic. Never. Ever. Who really ever wants to go there and think of that?  But here we are. Its hard for most of us to wrap our minds around it. And harder is keeping up with all the information that comes at us from minute to minute – sometimes second by second. Honestly we are so lucky that we live in this age with info at our fingertips – it is part of what can keep us safe because knowledge is power- quick access to current news was not something they had in 1918.  Also the internet and social media keeps us connected to each other –  but it also can just be too much. Too overwhelming. When it gets too much I have to get away from it. I can’t watch the stock market tumble daily. I can’t read sad story after sad story. I want to keep up on what is going on but sometimes I have to turn it off. And I do.

What do I do? Post photos of my dogs or other animals to hopefully make others smile for a minute – maybe forget what we are facing for a second. I read. I binge watch shows with Kevin. I exercise. I hike in the fields behind my house. We try to help our neighbors. We shop for each other. We watch out for each other. I sit with myself. I pray.

And aside from this virus life goes on. Another brother in law is having a health scare, his roommate has cancer.  My cat has gone missing- yes another one – yet again. We had to order hay for the horses. Buy their feed. My husband continues to work. We have to make meals. Two of my kids remain employed for now- thank goodness. My other son leaves tomorrow to go to basic training for the Navy.  A hard thing to see your kid off in normal times but in these times? Well very hard….more on that soon.

Life just goes on. I hear cars whizzing by my house. Yesterday it seemed like everyone was out in our town shopping- as we were. And I was like people go home – and they were likely thinking the same thing!  I am sure we were all worrying that things might be shut down tighter here in Maryland as the case have increased quite a bit in a couple days. We all were stocking up on food and supplies – no toilet paper anywhere.  We did not hoard. Hoarding = not helpful.

I want to feel normal but yet it doesn’t. Everything has changed. At this point I am taking things one day at a time and I am trying to find smiles in my day and live for the moment. It helps me to cope. We all have to find our things that will help calm our minds.

We are all sacrificing, we are all probably scared, bored, mad…so many things at once.

Let’s just try to be kind, be helpful, be loving — and be safe.

img_1303

The Crew practicing their social distancing.

 

Footnote: Article in The Courier Journal, March 18, 2020