OYL April 26

One Year Later I look back at my COVID journal. April 21, 2020. “It has taken until now – nearly six weeks – for me to start thinking that I actually would like to interact with a human being after all. Pandemics are easier for introverts. I was feeling great, and I had a valid reason for being antisocial. But now I’d really like to sit in an audience and laugh together, or clap for a performance, give a whoop during a song. I’d like to go the theatre. I’d like to wander the aisles in a grocery store without everybody being in masks and gloves, and I’d like to not have to worry about how close I was to them, or think with dread about how many people had touched the PIN pad before me.”

“The price of crude oil dropped below zero for the first time. That is so weird. I’ve never even heard of oil being below 0 dollars a barrel. Will said gas was $1.75 in Pawtucket. Dennis said it’s the same thing in Salem. I haven’t left my house for a week, so I don’t know what it is here.”

Looking back, I see that I went through phases of being at peace with pandemic isolation. The first six weeks of enforced solitude were a delight. Then I realized I missed people. But I listened to friends who were seriously suffering, and I realized we all are experiencing this differently.

Image from their website: Columbia Pacific Food Bank (cpfoodbank.org)

April 22. “I received a call from the Columbia Food Bank in Pennsylvania. I accidentally donated to the wrong place. Danielle offered to return my money because she and a co-worker discovered there is a Columbia Food Bank near me. I told her to keep the $100 because they are a food bank too! I then looked up the correct one, the Columbia Pacific Food Bank, and donated another $100. People are losing their jobs, but my retirement pay and veteran disability pay steadily chugs along.”

That was such a fun story and such a sweet group of people in Pennsylvania. Danielle said when they received my gift they were interested to see that I was from Oregon. They all started asking each other, “How do we have a friend in Oregon?” No one knew. So then they suspected a mistake, and began sleuthing. Sure enough, there is a food bank near me that has almost the same name. Danielle actually called me to explain and offer a refund. Can you even believe that? The way I saw it, every food bank in the country was getting hammered, and people in Pennsylvania need help as much as the people in Oregon.

April 23. “My friend Will and I got in a fight. I’m just not doing so great. I’m sick of life being so crazy. I’m tired of being alone – or being scared when I’m near people like in a grocery store. I just don’t have the bandwidth to forgive Will when he is being a jerk.”

“Tara was on the phone with me for an hour, doing homework. Tara can’t go to campus and get peace anymore, but has to stay home. Brynnen has the day off and can’t help themselves but chat at Tara, and Tara can’t help themselves but chat back. So T sent B off to the bedroom and called me to have on the phone the entire time, to help keep them focused. It seemed to work. There was a lot of silence while T read stuff and watched instructional videos, but I didn’t mind. I’m happy to help the kiddo and I was colouring postcards the whole time.”

The entries from the 23rd illustrate some practical fall-out from the pandemic: the ways our behaviors were affected. Did you find yourself fighting too? Tensions were high. I remember telling myself all the time to be kinder and remember that people were on edge. I couldn’t always do it because I was under stress too. Tara’s studying strategy was interesting, but I thought it was creatively clever. To keep them from paying attention to whatever Brynnen might be doing, Tara called me. But Tara didn’t really talk to me, just had the phone line open to me while they did their work. I heard the kid mumbling to themself, saying “Oh!” when they figured something out, and making little thinking and writing sounds. After an hour, T says, “Ok, I’m done. Thanks, Mom!” And we hung up. ha ha ha ha.

April 26. “I am so frustrated with online school. It’s so difficult to get reassurances of all the pending homework, the due dates, the professor’s expectations. In the archaeology class we have a pretty tough quiz every other week. Or once a week? It’s hard to tell so far. I keep getting it wrong – either forgetting it or taking it a week early. It’s the beginning of week 5 today, so I’m frustrated that I’m still not always sure what’s going on. A couple of times I’ve missed a reading and only found out about it when I read other peoples’ discussions and they referred to an author I didn’t recognize.

Today was the first time I heard the word “austerity” on the news, mentioned as our likely future. I wonder what austerity will look like. In particular, since both of my paychecks (pension+disability) come from the government, will they be more or less safe?”

The prediction was false and as a nation we never had to undergo changes due to austerity. What we had (and still have) was a bunch of people who stopped spending because they lost their income, and a bunch of people who had the same income as always, but spent it on new things because their old habits, like travel and concerts, were no longer available. Rather than widespread austerity, what I did see was an instinct of people to spend as much money as they could to support the businesses they cared about. In the year since, I have heard many, many small businesses say that their loyal customers played a huge part in keeping the business going.

It’s a year later and I’m getting better at online school. I’m also figuring out the difference between a professor who knows what they’re doing online, and one who doesn’t. Props to the professors who had never taught online, never wanted to teach online, and then didn’t have a choice but to figure it out.

I was happy to fill out this survey last week (2021) from Portland State University which asks many specific questions about what exactly would make me feel safe on campus. Options are mandatory masks, hand sanitizer, classrooms disinfected between every class, updated HVAC system, etc. My answer: mandatory vaccinations. I doubt vaccinations will become mandatory. Not in Portland where everyone’s feelings are important, even if their feelings such as not wanting a vaccination put the rest of us at risk.

The takeaway: It seems certain that classes will be in person, on campus, this Fall. Yay!!

13 thoughts on “OYL April 26

  1. I jumped back into my journal for late April last year Crystal. Peggy was still hoping that we could make out trip up the Rhine with our family for her 70th birthday. I had mixed feelings, didn’t feel like it would be safe. I offered an RV trip back to see the kids as a substitute. The river cruise folks soon solved the problem by cancelling the cruise as Europe shut down. I ended up taking Peggy on a road trip. The kids came through with a special celebration for their mom. One thing that was fun about revisiting my journal was that I noted that our flowers were doing the same thing last year that they are doing now, almost to the day. All in all, comparing my journal to yours, we were having a much easier time of it. My most depressing thoughts were reserved for Trump. –Curt

    1. I think it’s fun that you’re comparing your journal to mine from the same time frame. Your comment that you were having an easier time of it helps me make my point that everyone has been experiencing the pandemic differently. I’m glad you two had a good road trip and a special Peggy celebration after all. The Rhine would have been more awesome, but it’s still there, waiting for you. Funny how you said, “the cruise folks solved the problem by cancelling it” ha ha!

      I have been comparing flowers too, and I am about 3 weeks behind last year. It has been a cold spring. In fact, I just mowed my lawn for the first time last week, and my brother was mowing in Seattle a month ago. I thought my dogwood must have died over the winter. I planted it last year, so that’s possible. But I went out and checked, and sure enough, it’s still alive, just hadn’t got it’s juices flowing yet. Today the tiny buds are big enough that I can see them from a distance, but no actual leaves or flowers yet.

      Funny you mention Trump as your source of depressing thoughts. I had them too. I’ve left some of it out. 🙂

  2. You were really having a hard time with all this isolation. I was so lucky that H was here with me. We don’t interact all that much but it’s nice to have someone around even if they don’t converse with you. I’m better at it now than in the beginning. You are always welcome to visit, call or send a distress signal. 😉 I tend to keep music or TV running so I feel less alone. I’m ready to be done with it all too. I’m lucky to have so much to do everyday that they come and go without notice. I’m probably much better at being alone than most though I always enjoy a good chat. Glad school won’t be virtual next year for you.

    1. You are right that I struggled at times. I am sort of noticing it now, while looking back on my journal. At the time, I was keeping in touch with others who were really suffering. Like, seriously miserable by April. So I had the impression that I was doing pretty well. Looking back, I see that I was not. But…it’s all relative. I’m grateful for being a person who is fine living alone most of the time, because boy howdy, that was a long, long time to be alone, without even a concert or a play to break up the solitude. I don’t keep a TV going, but I do talk to myself outloud all day long, ha ha ha!! Thanks for the invite! I will for sure head on down your way. I’m feeling more confident now that I’m vaccinated, that I’m less likely to be spreading disease to people I love. My schedule remains full as usual, so I’ll pop on down one day in between adventures. I’m glad you stay busy. You have always been someone who fills her day, and it’s so good for the soul and the mind. Hope you are both well. Hugs and kisses ❤

    1. Oh! You made the connection for me 🙂 Now they DO have a friend in Oregon, through Liz. Ha! You know, after I posted this, I looked them up and donated again. I attached a note to say: “This is in honor of my mix-up a year ago.” I hope there is someone still there who remembers what I’m talking about.

      Hey lady, you have been poeming your heart out and I’ve missed MOST of them. Drat. And I was doing so well at the beginning of the month. Know that I think of you and your creations often, and I’m sorry I’m not checking in more regularly. Also, I’m still slowly learning Italian. I can now say, “The street is here. The avenue is there.” And I think those sentences will help me immensely when I get there. ha ha ha!

      1. Ahh, Crystal, these poems will wait for you, whenever it’s the best time for you. No hurry and no worry. I was featured for my Sunday’s poem the next day and that made me really happy. Sunday was a good day. Now we are yellow but I haven’t been anywhere. The weather is not nice. Keep learning, everything will come handy! 😉

  3. I love this post, Crystal for so many reasons. Love the food bank story, and Tara’s homework solution. It definitely pushed us to find creative solutions for challenges.
    I remember how I listened to Cloud Cult’s album Waves blasting into my earphones to drown out
    Michael’s work phone calls during those first weeks of lockdown, when he worked from home. It drove me crazy, and pushed my stress levels sky high, as I was used to being alone at home during the day. I eventually found strategies that worked for me to cope with him working from home in a 2 bedroom apartment, where even when closing a door, one couldn’t help but hear the other person’s conversations.

    1. I’m glad you liked this one, Jolandi. I was worried it was too depressing. But it’s real, at least. Your story is too: the things we had to come up with to get through our new way of living. Blasting Cloud Cult is a good strategy (I just had to listen to them for a bit before I continued on…heh heh). You are one of those people that had to deal with a small living space (at least for a while). I have been so grateful for my big property where “lockdown” means I can still run and play and work and see wild animals and listen to the creek splashing and never see another human. So good for my mental health. You must be finding that kind of recharge at your new homestead. It must have been so frustrating when you closed a door and still heard the conversation…just the reality that you can’t GO anywhere, you must simply absorb it somehow. Ugh. Congratulations on finding a way.

      1. Yes, I must say, now that I am on a big piece of land in Portugal I mostly forget about what a struggle it can be when living in a small space in the city. It is almost as if life is normal where I am now.
        Michael and I arrived back in Abu Dhabi from a visit to our land about three days before the border closed, which was a real blessing and a close call. But we still had to quarantine, and I can still remember how difficult it was not being allowed to leave the apartment. There is a very tiny balcony, just big enough for two chairs, and we spent many sunsets out there for a bit of fresh air in a desperate attempt to stay sane. I am so grateful I am where I am at the moment. Also things are slowly opening up here in Portugal. Fingers crossed that cases will remain stable and there will be more freedom of movement. Take care, Crystal.

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