OYL April 6

Jeff shows me how to clear away the overgrown grass.
After he tore out the grass, I moved in with a brush and water and scrubbed the stone.

I kept dating during the pandemic. I was online anyway, using OK Cupid and a couple other online dating websites – OK Cupid is the best by far – and chatting online is perfectly fine in a pandemic. But then, eventually, two people get to a point where they feel ready to chance it.

One Year Later, April 4, 2020. “Out of madness? Boredom? Calm coolheadedness? Jeff and I are meeting for a date today in Warrenton to clean gravestones at the cemetery. I feel safer at a cemetery than in a supermarket. I’m not sure if I will be tempted to hug him hello, or goodbye, as I am a “hugger” kind of person usually. I suspect that he will follow my lead on that. I worry what he will think of my cough. For whatever reason I suffer with a cough that never goes away. So I will be wearing a scarf over my face. I have a couple masks somewhere, but I don’t know where. Maybe I’ll look for them. But in any case, since the first day this thing started to scare me, I’ve been extra aware of my coughing.”

Imagine that! Not knowing where a mask is. In this case above I was referring to some dust masks I bought when I had to clean asbestos-laden popcorn from my ceiling two years ago. Now I have a mask in my purse, two in the car (not counting the two spare paper ones in the jockey box), a couple freshly washed on the top of the washing machine, and probably one or two crammed into coat pockets.

April 5. “Total cases in the US: 308,426. Total deaths: 7,616. Trump has stopped talking about opening the country up by Easter. Which is good because that’s in a week. Total cases in Oregon: 999. Total deaths: 26. Benton county (where Tara lives): 19 and 1. Columbia county (where I live): 3 cases, no deaths. Requests and suggestions that people protect themselves on trails fell on deaf ears and authorities had no choice but to take it away from everyone. All Forest Service Trailheads in the PNW are closed because people were swarming the parking lots and hiking shoulder to shoulder on trails packed as much right now as during peak summer months.”

“News is filled with stories of China on the other side of the pandemic. It’s crazy to think of the hope of recovery somewhere already, while knowing the worst is still ahead for the US. A conspiracy-minded neighbor raised an eyebrow and asked how it could be as bad as everyone says if China has it under control already. “It’s got to be fake, right?” he asked. I reminded him 1) we haven’t been as aggressive as China was in lockdowns, and 2) they got a two-month head start on us.  Financial numbers are potentially terrifying, but so far I’m not letting myself be terrified by it. We are solidly – blam – in a recession clearly worse than that in 2008-2009. Things financially are worse than after 9/11/2001. People on my financial podcasts are having discussions about how to identify a depression vs. a recession. During 2008-2009, the worst unemployment for the US was 10%. During the Great Depression, the worst unemployment was 24.9%. Right now, there is an economists prediction that the US will hit 32% unemployment at the worst. It would be the new Greatest Depression, if the numbers stayed there for an extended period of time. The second week of March we broke a record with first-time unemployment claims: 3.3 million. That blew our minds until the third week of March, when we broke it again with 6.6 million.”

When all was said and done: Bureau of Labor Statistics reflects that U.S. unemployment reached 14.8% overall in April 2020. Among Black Americans 16.7%. Among LatinX Americans 18.9%. And among 16-19 year olds, a whopping 32.1% (this measures those who are wanting to work but unable to, and is not counting those who are not looking for work). Tara, 22 years old last year, was among those who lost their job for all of 2020.

A much sharper and higher increase, but a much sharper and lower decrease, compared to 2008-09.

Still going through the growing pains of learning how to live in a different world:

April 6. “I’m on the phone more than usual. I’m on the phone more than I like, since I’m an introvert. And when I’m on the phone, I’m there longer than I’m used to being on the phone. It’s hard to sit still and be present and not get bored out of my mind. I now keep a packet of colouring postcards and four packs of fine-point felt pens on the dining table. That way I can doodle and colour and stay present for whomever I’m talking with. I also have beautiful hand-coloured postcards when I get off the phone, to mail to other friends. Win win. I noticed that instead of immediately burning cardboard boxes that I get, I’ve been keeping them. I have been mailing more stuff than usual. Mailing things to gift and to keep in touch, since I can’t visit.”

“The weather is slightly warmer and when the rain is light, I’ve been trying to get out to do my 5.5 mile power walks. In the past two weeks I’ve noticed fewer cars and more people. I passed a grandmother and three kids out walking yesterday. I crossed to the other side of the road, and hoped they knew why. One day I chatted with a woman who was building a fence. Her dog was going crazy to get to me and greet me, but she was holding him back, so I happily crossed the ditch and came over to stand next to them and petted the dog and chatted away. I had completely forgotten myself. She was not rude, but obviously unhappy. I thought she was mad at me for something. I said, “Ok, I’ll leave you alone now,” sort of joking. And she said, “Thank you.” I was hurt for about a mile and a half down the road, then I remembered: COVID-19!! I am an idiot. That poor woman.”

15 thoughts on “OYL April 6

  1. Laughed about the masks, Crystal. Like you, we have them everywhere. When Covid first struck, Peggy went into mass production with her sewing machine. She had soon outfitted the whole family. There were even masks using dragon material. One of the grandson’s got that one. 🙂 Bone and Eeyore also got masks to wear! –Curt

    1. I recall that when I first started wearing masks, I was very aware of them on my face, and they were an irritant, and I had this subconscious feeling like I was suffocating. Now I barely even notice when they’re on. I also had such a hard time remembering to wear a mask into a store. I saw that with other people too: stopping halfway across the parking lot and doing an about face and heading back to the car for the mask. I never forget now. You and I are lucky that a family member decided to go into mask production! I do recall seeing photos of Bone and Eeyore in their masks.

      1. I think Oregon is doing a good job with its masks, Crystal, at least down here. At first, it was a mixed bag. Now most people seem to be complying. I still prefer to exist without one, grin, but it does feel much more natural now. –Curt

  2. I’m keeping a mask in all my jacket pockets and I put them in my shirt pockets if I go outside because so many of my neighbors want to talk closely. They are mostly kind of deaf. 😉 I thought we would have figured this out by now. I’m behind and I’ll answer your note soon.

    1. That is smart. Pedro and I sort of do the same thing when we go for walks, or walk from his house in Bethany to a nearby store. We don’t wear masks outside generally, and then when someone approaches, everybody pulls out their masks and puts them on. It’s an especially important consideration when it’s someone you will be talking with, and those hard of hearing, so you have to be close to the person. I’m sure masks make it even harder to understand what’s being said. That is an unfortunate consequence. I heard one news story about the deaf community that was looking into the potential for construction of masks you could see through, because some people rely heavily on watching peoples’ mouths when they talk. No worries about hurrying to answer my note. I appreciated your card and I wanted to say hello, that’s all. ❤

    1. Yes, in the beginning I forgot more often than I remembered. I think the main caution back in April 2020 for the U.S. was hand-washing, and not social distancing or wearing masks. But we eventually got that figured out.

  3. Woooww, beautiful postcards!! That gate is so wonderful! You certainly know how to use the time. This chapter tells so much about you. There is a pandemic and you go on a date to clean graves in the cemetery and wonder if you will hug. And then you forget all about it and chat with a woman and even pet her dog. There ain’t nothing stopping you in your lovely, warm, loving ways. ❤ Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.

    1. Manja, such a generous way to spin it. My differing approaches may have more to do with being a little bit scatterbrained plus a dash of reckless invincibility, ha ha! Jeff and I didn’t hug after all. I was too nervous and we didn’t approach within less than 2 meters from each other at any point.

      I was partially off track with the woman and her dog because we had some history. About six months earlier, I was in the middle of my 9 km power walk from my house and realized I was being trailed by a dog. I stomped and waved my arms and said, “Shoo!” a few times, but it would not leave me. It wasn’t aggressive, just apparently wanted someone to hang out with. I had never seen the dog before and had no idea where it belonged or where it had come from. The dog was a hassle, running in the road when cars would come, and the angry and worried faces of the drivers let me know that they thought the dog belonged to me and they were judging me for being a bad dog mom. I kept walking, periodically trying to get the dog to stop following me, but it followed me for at least 3 kilometers until it finally became fatigued and stopped to rest in a lovely garden at a nice house and I took my chances and hurried away without looking back. I agonized over that, hoping the doggo could find his way back home, wondering if I should have done something more, but I didn’t know what to do. If the dog got lost I would be partially responsible, sort of. I felt terrible, but couldn’t think of a solution. After dark that night, a woman and her teenage son pulled into my driveway because I was working late in front of the window and they could see me from the road. Turns out, their dog ran away that day and they were very worried and upset and looking for it! I showed them photos of the dog I had taken that day on my phone, and viola! It was their dog Ike. My guilt had a solution! I told them to wait right there and I would lead them to the place where the dog left me. I drove to the house, where the dog still was! The owner of the house had given Ike some water and he was happy to see his mom and boy pull into the driveway.

      ….anyway, it was Ike and his dog mom in this blog post. For a while I thought the woman may have blamed me for leading her dog astray, and that’s why I thought she was being cold with me. But after I walked away and thought about it for some time, I realized it was probably because there was a pandemic and I thoughtlessly barged onto her land and stood close to her and petted Ike.

      Today the fence is complete and Ike barks and bounds along the fence when I walk past his house, but is not able to follow me anymore.

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