So, this is a bit of a different post for me. Yesterday I learned it’s a thing right now to basically tell about your year. I saw Mind. Beauty. Simplicity‘s post on her year and it inspired me to write about my own. Seeing different accounts of how people have gotten through this year is super fascinating, so if you’ve written one of these, please give me the link.
I promise the title isn’t just clickbait, I will get to that part of the story.
So back in January when ww3 was trending and Australia was on fire, I had the idea of ‘I’ll write down something weird that happens every day and then at the end of the year I’ll make a post about it.’ I might still finish it, but honestly at the time I didn’t expect this year to go this weird. I thought that the pope slapping a lady’s hand on New Year’s Day would be the strangest thing to happen. Well, no. Honestly I kinda stopped keeping track after a while because it’s all just so depressing. I still have the list. I went up to around May when Tiger King came out, and then it fizzled out.
February happens and my doctor tells me I need my gallbladder out because it had gone to shit. At this point, news of the plague had spread, though cases in the US were still minimal, so it honestly wasn’t on my mind. As Mind Beauty Simplicity said, it was memes on the internet and nothing more. So March 2nd, I go in and get my organ removed from my body. My stomach is lopsided now, I want to point out. It’s a bit concave on the right side where the thing used to take up space. Anyways. I get this out, and then I spend a week using vacation time to rest. My work doesn’t offer sick time, so vacation time it was. I don’t wanna talk about it, I’m still salty.
I go back to the office for a week after my time off, and then the weekend of March 14th happens. That Friday, my supervisor told me to keep an eye on my work email over the weekend, something I usually totally ignore. I’m one of those ‘work doesn’t exist when I’m not actually at work’ people. It’s basically impossible to reach me. But I did keep an eye on it and lo and behold: Sunday night we get an email saying we’re all going remote until May. That same weekend (I think?) the governor of Pennsylvania ordered a lock down. I live on the western side of the state and by that point, the Philadelphia area in the east was flaring up in cases, so the whole state was locked down.
This spurred a lot of anger at the governor, but I think he made the right choice. Because he shut us down, the western side of Pennsylvania didn’t really ever spike until recently (I’m getting to that). So everything shut down except grocery stores, pharmacies, and blah. Game Stop tried to stay open in the area (nation wide? I’m not sure) by claiming that video games were a necessity and they got fined out the butt and then also closed. I think they’re permanently closed in this area now, honestly. None of them reopened when the restrictions were lifted.
So anyways, toilet paper disappears, and online grocery pickup spots because impossible to get. I’m still recovering from surgery at this point and need fat free or low fat foods so I don’t vomit everywhere or otherwise suffer the consequences. Both me and my husband are working from home – I’m a software developer that makes health-related software, so my job was at 0 risk, luckily. Honestly it’s kinda thriving right now because of my field. When I first started working from home, I was sitting on the couch all day, using my personal laptop to remote into my desktop pc at the office and I hated it. In addition to having to work off one little screen, the separation of home and work disappeared. Everything was on the couch and I never felt like I was ‘at home’ vs working, if that makes sense, even if I wasn’t actually working.
Eventually I drove into the office and picked up my desktop. Multiple monitors > one monitor. My husband set up his desk in the office room here and I set up on another desk in the back of the living room. We’re both on calls all day so being in the same room wouldn’t work. It got me off the couch and I only sit at the desk during working hours, so it put a substantial divide into ‘I’m at work’ and ‘I’m at home’ and it really helped me mentally. Plus this way I get the tv in the living room and put on movies and music videos and stuff all day in the background.
We would make grocery trips once every three or four weeks or so and drop a few hundred dollars each time. Neither of us wanted to be in the store more than necessary. But as usual at this point, toilet paper was nowhere to be seen. Rice was also really hard to come by, as was pasta, eggs, beef, and milk. We ate a lot of potatoes with our meals.
So the toilet paper:
So by mid-April we were running preeeetty low. Low as in ‘we started keeping tissues and coffee filters in the bathroom because we were gonna run out soon’ low. Low as in ‘you might wanna just plan on showering after’ low. I would make trips to stores when they first opened and wait in line at hopes of scoring some tp, but I never got lucky, it always sold out before I got some. And then my sister’s buddy who is also my buddy messages in a group chat we have that she works at a retail store and can grab us a pack of tp off a delivery truck if we need one. I immediately respond to that with essentially YES PLEASE.
So at 10pm one night, I leave my house, drive to a different city, meet my buddy in a parking lot and give her money for this toilet paper. It was really weird. I felt like I was making a drug deal or something. Her coworker came out during this deal when I was holding the tp in my arms and went ‘You might wanna hide that, you’ll get mugged’. She laughed, and was kidding but like… sheesh.
Technically that was probably something that went against the stay at home order, but I also needed it. It was a necessity. That pack of toilet paper saved our butts, literally. It was a nice, big one. With it, we lasted until the restrictions were lessened and generic brand tp started showing up on the shelf again a few months later. Later I told my other buddy about it, and she was also in dire straights. I ended up making a second 10pm tp trade deal with retail friend for her, and delivered the pack to her by literally throwing it at her from 10 feet away. I gotta tell ya, retail buddy, I know you don’t read this but if you weirdly ever see this, thank you.
Summer comes and I get another email from work saying we’re now to stay home until September. Otherwise, stay at home restrictions lift. This was the lull if you remember it. People started meeting up again and I did too – I met a few friends here and there. Saw my parents, yada yada. It was nice to see some people after months. Most of these meetings were outside, but a couple were inside. As I said, cases were low-ish around here. There were still some restrictions though – limits on number of people gathering, etc. Thing is, I turned 30 on August 7th. One of my best friends turned 30 on August 12th. Originally, in January, we were planning a huge birthday bash for the occasion. Obviously that didn’t happen, so instead I spent all the money I was gonna use on the party on books for myself. Happy birthday to me. It was still a good birthday, just much more low key. :p I got to have my existential crisis about having a 3 on the front of my age in the privacy of my own home.
Otherwise during the summer, I took a lot of walks. A lot of walks. And between the walks and the low fat diet from my gallbladder surgery, I lost some weight! As of today I’m down 17lbs. It’s not a huge accomplishment but it’s a good start, and I lost it slowly, so I’ve been able to keep it off. The grocery stores also started having online pickup times available so we started using that and haven’t stopped. During the spring and summer too, I was drinking a lot. I drank every weekend, and most nights during the week – just one beer with dinner usually, but it was an odd day when I didn’t have one. I got really into trying new stuff and really branched out in my tastes. Eventually I was like ‘wait no this is a slippery slope’ and cut it off and didn’t drink at all for a month before easing back into it. I still drink now, but it’s more like… a drink with dinner one or two nights a week, not seven. So don’t worry, I’m not an alcoholic.
Fall came and yet another email: stay at home til November. Cases around the country started rising again, and we all went back inside. Well, some people did. Some didn’t, and cases continued to surge. It was around here that I took up learning guitar. I’m still working on it!
And then on Halloween weekend, the current prez came to my area and did an election rally. There were thousands of people there, all without masks. So two weeks later, a couple weeks before Thanksgiving, cases in my area spiked. We’re still going up, too. So throughout all of spring and most of summer, western PA wasn’t terrible. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible. But honestly after that rally, it’s really gone up. The hospital I’m closest to me is full. They have no more room.
So far, so far, nobody I know has passed away, though I know multiple people who have gotten it and recovered. Thanksgiving was a stay-at-home event. I made a whole traditional meal and we got on video calls with my parents and my husbands’ parents. But again, some people didn’t do that either, and another spike happened. Last week, the governor ordered a shut down of in-restaurant dining and issued a stay at home advisory through Jan 4th. It’s not an order like last time, just an advisory, but I plan on following it. But there will be people who won’t, and for the couple weeks after Christmas and New Year’s, we’ll have yet another spike, and with the hospital full it’s probably not going to end well.
So, starting on Halloween, I decided I was gonna be festive out the butt for the fall and winter season as a coping mechanism. It’s my favorite time of the year – pumpkins and peppermints and holly jolly and creepies and turkeys! So I decked out my house for Halloween, and then I decked it out again for Thanksgiving.
And now, it’s decked out – super decked out – for Christmas. I put up more decorations than I ever have before. My husband and I decided to go a bit nuts on each other for gifts this year too since we won’t be seeing anyone face to face for meals or anything. I’m done buying his stuff at this point, but he accidentally saw one thing 😦 It was delivered to my front porch in a box that said ‘this is what this thing is’ on the outside in big bold letters. They didn’t notify me it had been delivered so I didn’t know, and then he went out to get something he was told was delivered and saw the box. He felt so bad about it. I got him a bonus gift though to make up for the surprise, I’m pumped. It’s tequila, bwahaha.
I’m also still buying gifts for all my family: I’m going to drive around on Christmas Eve and deposit gifts on peoples’ porches, and I’m really excited about it, honestly. I’m gonna blast Christmas music while I’m doing it, it’s gonna be so much fun! I’m also in the process of baking a lot of cookies that will either be mailed out or deposited on porches.
So that’s my year so far. Work has since emailed me twice more: once stating ‘back to office in January’ and then another stating ‘we’ll uh… we’ll let you know.’ I think they just got tired of emailing over and over, haha. Otherwise, I know I didn’t have it too bad compared to a lot of people, and for that I’m very grateful. There’s still time though – my dad was exposed recently at his work and had to get tested. To my knowledge, he didn’t get it, so that’s good. They would have told me if the test came back positive.
I also haven’t seen my grandmother in over a year. She’s in a care home and has dementia. I’m not even sure if she knows there’s a pandemic, or if she knows people haven’t been visiting. I send her cards for holidays and her birthday and am gonna send her a Christmas present, but otherwise, I don’t hear anything from her. I did trying calling her once but she forgot she was speaking to me on the phone mid-conversation and got stressed, so I think it’s better if I just don’t call, it’ll just stress her out. Cards and gifts are her love language, so that’s what I’ll keep doing. Then she’ll have them to read over and over instead of forgetting that I called.
The care place she’s in though did open up over Thanksgiving to let visitors in, and that terrified me. Why. I mean, I get why. They’re lonely, and it’s Thanksgiving, but it really scared me. I haven’t heard of any cases there yet though so keep your fingers crossed for me that my grandma stays safe. I worry about her.
Probably the best thing to come out this pandemic though is my marriage. I mean I’ve been married since 2017, but this year we’ve spent together, forced to be in each other’s company with only a wall to divide us if we need alone time, has honestly made us closer. We were close before mind you, obviously, but going through this with him has just proven to me that I’ve chosen the right human, one thousand fold. There’s nobody else I’d rather be stuck with.
Currently my livingroom is a mess because I’ve started wrapping gifts and receiving packages in the mail. Boxes are everywhere, paper is everywhere, my cat Nina is having a blast playing in it all.
Oh – that’s another good thing! My cat has anxiety problems, and before the plague, she had chewed off all her fur on her sides as a coping thing. When we started to stay home for work, she stopped chewing and all her fur grew back! Her anxiety has gotten so much better over this year.
And finally, starting tomorrow after work, I’m on vacation until January 4th, and I’m so excited. Because we didn’t go anywhere this year, I had a lot of extra PTO time to use, so I literally took half a month off. I hope the end of this year is the end of this year and with the vaccine starting to go out, I hope we return to normalcy during 2021 and then I can actually see my fam on Christmas next year. Here’s hoping.
Stay safe, friends.
PS: Toilet paper is becoming scarce again. What heck, people.