Pessimist or Realist

Pessimist or Realist

I live pretty far away from things, it’s a good hour plus drive to a Costco and while my little town has a grocery store it’s one of those pay three times as much as you would anywhere else because of fuel charges kind of store. Once a week, every week, I used to (in my pre-quarantine days) go down the hill (that’s what we call leaving the mountain) with my kids so we could all visit with my mom for a few hours and have lunch, then the kids and I would go grocery shopping and run any other errands that can only be accomplished down the hill.

I haven’t been down the hill in two weeks. I was supposed to go tomorrow because Costco Instacart delivery won’t deliver up here but they will deliver to my mom. She was able to get us some things we haven’t been able to get since all this panic began, things like baby wipes. For our baby. Who poops in a diaper and then we have to wipe it. With baby wipes. Which have 0% alcohol in them. And yet…people are hoarding baby wipes that don’t kill the Coronavirus and for what? But I digress, I was supposed to go down the hill tomorrow to pick up the order of stuff she was able to get delivered to her house for us.

The plan was that everything would be out by the garage. I could arrive, load up my car, wave through the living room window at her, maybe call her cell and talk to her on the phone as we stared at each other through the window. You know, first world tragic stuff. And then afterwards I’d go to the grocery store and see if there was any fresh produce I could purchase since we haven’t eaten anything fresh in a week. But sadly plans got changed around and now it looks like I won’t be going down until Monday.

This sucks, y’all. I was equal parts dreading this trip, because of the grocery store part, and needing this escape from my home and immediate family. And I could say that it makes me a horrible person to say that, and maybe it does, but the truth of the matter is: there is no one I would rather be in isolation with than my husband and kids and also I desperately need to get away from my husband and kids. I need roughly twenty minutes, but two hours would be heaven, of silence. I need to be in my own head while also physically busy doing something (driving would be perfect) so that I can concentrate on my thoughts without concentrating on them.

Did that make any sense at all?

I will admit that for a moment I considered not telling my husband the plans had changed to Monday. I considered saying nothing and leaving tomorrow and getting my time to myself and then coming home and shrugging, oh man, plans changed but I was already down the hill, sorry it took me so long to turn around and get back…. But that would be shitty. Just like when I consider staying in the shower longer than I technically need to.

Because the truth is, if I told my husband, I desperately need two hours to myself he would shrug and say, “go! Do it!” He would have absolutely no problem with it whatsoever. And as I type this out and realize the truth I’ve known but not admitted to myself I wonder why the hell I still haven’t turned to him and said “I desperately need two hours to myself!”

I think part of it is just recognizing that I could have this time to myself if I asked for it, allows me to breathe a little deeper and not be quite so desperate for it. I think part of it is that I desperately want that time to myself and I also can’t stand to be apart from my family for one minute, and especially right now. Seeing them and hearing them and being with them reassures me that they are okay, that I am okay, that we are alive and surviving. So even though I need my space, I also can’t bring myself to take it.

I think the answer is a family hike. We all need to get out and move. We all need some fresh air and some outside time. We can all be together but also be in our heads. Writing that out feels right. Writing that out feels like, “ah, yes, that is the answer.” And so I have just therapized myself through writing. Huzzah!

It’s fascinating to me how often I can be spinning out inside my mind, spiraling into anger or frustration (same thing), not able to figure out why, and then just sitting and writing for a moment allows me the space to work through it. Like earlier at the dinner table, my leg was jumping up and down, up and down, up and down, and my husband asks “nervous?” And I was like “yes, I’m anxious, which really means I’m afraid but I don’t know what I’m afraid of.” And that’s when I had to stop and breathe and realize that I was afraid not of going to the store so much as the store not having what we need.

While the store being out of what we need is a legit fear it’s also ridiculous for us. We live so far away that we are always pretty well backstocked on stuff. And sure, I was supposed to restock our TP supply right as the pandemic hit and thus we are actually running quite low on TP and those baby wipes I was wha-whaing about earlier. But the thing is, we are okay. We are extremely lucky. We have stuff in the freezer and stuff on our shelves. We can go at least one more week just making up random meals based on what we scrounge through and those random meals will be decent.

The bigger fear really is that I fear this will go on much longer than anticipated.

I told a girlfriend on text last night that I expect it will be August before things will slow down. It shocked me when I sent it because I hadn’t realized I believed that until I saw it in writing. But I do. She was shocked. And I texted that they originally predicted it would peak in May but that I think that’s too optimistic. I’m not usually this pessimistic. And then I saw posts about schools remaining closed until Fall and realized, I’m not being a pessimist, I’m being a realist.

Or maybe I just really need to get outside for a hike.

~~~That’s one hour~~~



It’s official, our state is now on lockdown. It’s been less than an hour since it was announced and already people are freaking out. I don’t get it. Why are you freaking out? Did you not see this coming? Italy warned us. The governor warned us. It happened. There was no broadside.

Maybe, being an introvert, this is just not scary for me? Maybe, living an hour from any kind of “city” makes this easy for me? Maybe the fact that we are all still so incredibly connected thanks to phones, texts, and the internet makes this seem like a pretty simple demand of me?

I realize I am showing my privilege here. I recognize there are people who will not be drawing a paycheck, who will be worried about their next meal, their children’s next meal, that are worried about being in lockdown with an abuser. I get that. That is not my reality and I will not even pretend that it is.

I think there are many ways to help make this a wee bit easier and I’m going to lead with the one that will probably piss a lot of people off but may actually prevent a lot of insanity and panic:

One: Play Ostrich

Stick your head in the sand. Use your internet for nothing more than Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, AmazonPrimeVideo, etc. DO NOT PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEWS. Live in the bubble that is your home and don’t come out until August at the earliest…even then maybe just peak at a headline or two and then decide whether or not to go back into your forced hibernation…which I guess makes you a bear, not an ostrich.

Two: Stay Informed

The complete opposite of option one here folks. This requires that you be on multiple platforms and keep appraised of the situation and ONLY LOOK AT LEGITIMATE NEWS. Do you realize how many nefarious things are going on right now? Senators dumping stocks right before everything crashed! The Chairman of the NYSE is married to a senator and was using information to also dump stocks. Stay informed. Hold them accountable. Don’t lose sight of the political in the personal.

Three: Stay Social Via Internet

Do not become suicidal because you’re an extrovert and this is literally killing your will to live. You can still be super social (you weirdo, you). There’s FaceTime, Zoom, Google Chat (or something?), GoToMeeting, Skype, and probably lots of others I don’t know about because I’m really just not that cool. People are literally dating in all this. You can do it!

Four: Volunteer

Bear with me here, you do not have to break lockdown to help others. You can write letters (COVID-19 dies on paper in 24 hours) to:

You can volunteer to foster an animal in need. Lots of shelters are losing their volunteers right now. There are tons of critters that need a dedicated foster home. You can start by asking at your local Humane Society and they will most likely be able to direct you if they are not in need themselves.

These are my top suggestions but if you Google “how to volunteer without leaving home” you will be inundated with more options than you could possibly get through in one lockdown.

Five: Get Out

Yes, you’re not supposed to leave your home unless it’s to get groceries, fuel, or medical. That doesn’t mean you can’t supply your brain and your body with the outdoors they need to stay healthy. You must have at least one window in your home you can open for twenty minutes a day. Look out that window, even if you’re looking at a brick wall, smell that outside air. Obviously the further you can see out the better, it’s actually super important for your brain and eyes if you can focus on a distance for fifteen minutes a day. If you’re lucky enough to have a balcony or patio or backyard use them. This may seem small but it’s actually huge for your mental health.

Six: Humor and Beauty

Search for the humor and the beauty during all this, they exist, I promise (it’s helpful if you’re on Twitter). Humor is going to be very important in the coming months.

You got this America. You are not alone. The entire world is gonna have to be mad COVID strong, y’all. We are all in this together even when we’re apart. Stay connected with your friends and family. Sit in your scared moments together. Laugh in your happy moments together. Remember to be extra gentle with yourself and others, extra forgiving. We are all simultaneously fragile and stronger than we previously thought.

~~~That’s one hour~~~

Doing Our Best

We went to the desert today to go hiking. A spot not many people go to or know about prior to COVID-19, and sure enough we didn’t see anyone the entire time we were out. Not even parked cars along the route of people hiking some other trail off the main one. We were outside in the sun and wind and clouds for hours and it was amazing. It was also eerie.

From the top of a mountain we looked down at the highways and saw no cars.

We hiked for a good long while, as much of a good long hike as you can have with a four-year-old and a one-year-old who isn’t doing much in the way of walking right now and thus needs to be carried. Clean air. Fresh blooming flowers. Sage.

We collected handfuls of sage to bring the outside inside.

We drove a bit further and stopped along an extremely popular hiking through trail that also happens to have the perfect fallen tree that acts as a bench and ate our packed lunch: tuna salad with avocado and almond crackers. A couple apples. We walked a portion of the trail, just so I could finally say “I’ve walked a portion of the PCT.”

There were no hikers.

We continued to drive through to the other highway that would loop us around and back home. We finally saw someone. On a bike. An older man, certainly over sixty, most likely a prime candidate for the entire self-isolation movement. He slowed down as though he wanted to chat. We waved and mouthed “hi” as we drove through. He waved back.

This is social distancing without a couch.

And then we blew it. We were driving back towards town and saw two through-hikers who needed a lift into town. It’s a long hike into town. The clouds are coming in good now and the wind has picked up. It is very, very cold outside. These two kids need to get in out of the storm and fast. The cab of our truck is full with two adults and two kids in car seats, but our truck has a shell on it and the dog is in back.

We stop for the hikers.

The hikers have no problem climbing in back with the dog. They’re shivering. They say they want a hotel and food and they’ll go anywhere we think will take them. We close them up in the back, tell them to bang the glass if they need us to stop before we get to town. We start driving, and texting with a true trail angel to see if she wants hiker company for the night.

She’s had a strange day.

She pulls over and waits for us to get up the hill with our hikers. We pull over and ask the hikers if they still want to go to town and pay for a hotel and pay for food or if they want to go home with the world’s most epic trail angel where they’ll have showers, laundry, food, beer, and a game room all for free.

The hikers jump in with her.

We continue on our way home. We have our homemade kombucha and discuss how grateful we are to come home to a wood stove and to have spent a day together. Yes, we broke isolation by letting trail hikers ride in the back of our truck. Yes, we broke isolation by stopping to let those hikers get a much better deal for the night than a hotel would give them.

We are not learning from Italy.

My kids are perfectly healthy. I’m perfectly healthy. We are probably carriers if we have been exposed. My husband is currently, knock-on-wood, perfectly healthy. He is also immunocompromised. We risk his health more than ours when we do what we did today.

My joy at helping others could soon be tempered.

This is my greatest fear. Not that I may have compromised my husbands immune system by breaking isolation, although that terrifies me more than I know how to put into words, but that I may become too afraid to help others. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have immunocompromised people in their family be the helpers. And yes, it’s fine to say, just let the people who don’t have 60+ people in their family be the helpers.

Expecting others to be the helpers seems pretty entitled.

When we returned home I saw an invite on social media to join a group for helpers in our area. A group for those who want to help and for those who need help. I haven’t yet seen anyone raise their hand needing help, and I’m grateful. I’m hopeful no one will need it.

I feel like a hypocrite.

I will wait for someone who needs eggs, then I’ll deliver to their doorstep fresh from our hens. I will wait for someone who needs rice, then I’ll deliver from our enormous Costco bag purchased before the panic buying began. I will wait for someone who needs a smile, then I’ll FaceTime with them and my goofy children.

I will do my best.

~~~That’s one hour~~~