Vacation Pandemic – Epilogue

The Life and Times of Rose edition:

The sun couldn’t decide what the eff it wanted to do. It rained, hailed, and full, spring day sunned, all within 2 hours.

The last trip into town felt like any other, despite majority of shops being closed. We saw familiar faces. Stood in the sun while we waited for coffee. And this was it. This was the feeling of my vacation. My little bubble of peace and warmth. Despite the world around me. And my growing reluctance to leave is palpable.

It doesn’t help that one of symptoms of the death virus is tightness of the chest. Why do I suddenly keep feeling it? How do I differentiate between illness and anxiety?

Pretty soon I’ll be back on the road, headed south towards the place I suppose I call “home.” But not to the life I left behind. I will return to a life I have never lived, not sure I know how to live. Back to a world that changed while I wasn’t looking.

And that is how it will start…

A return to a small, 1 bedroom apartment. Alone, save for 2 cats and 2 tortoises. Unable to leave except for work. Lonely, isolated. A spinster by the time this all blows over…

Vacation Pandemic – Day Last

When you’re stuck in quarantine and don’t know what to do…

Here are a few ideas, brought to you by Pets:

_______________________________________

1: Sleep in Late

_______________________________________

2: Do some Puzzles

_______________________________________

3: Cuddle a Stuffed Animal

_______________________________________

4: Or even just stay hidden

_______________________________________

But always remember to keep smiling.

Vacation Pandemic – Day uh…?

It is quiet.

Quieter than it’s been in a while. Not a creepy, killer waiting around the next corner quiet, but a natural quiet. It reminds me of early mornings Out the Road. The very, very end of it, where we would park our cars, then trek around the cove by foot. I remember the smell of low tide, that deep scent of brine, of salt, but such a richer and more flavorful salt. I remember the rocks slippery with sheets of wet seaweed, maroon red clumps of sea hair caught upon the rocks. I remember the laughter, because we were young, and full of life. And I remember the moment we rounded that last corner and the ranch finally came into sight. I remember the early mornings. Only the sound of birds filled the air. Small birds singing in the trees. The sort of song you only hear in the early mornings, or if you’re very quiet, and very lucky.

The birds are singing now. My head still hurts, and the world still spins underfoot, but the air is brisk and fresh now the rain has stopped. After nearly being run over by a black Dodge Charger, the dog and I set off in earnest. Which involves much sniffing on her part, deep breaths on mine, and the slow tempo of my foot falls. Everything is green. The tall reaching evergreen trees with their low sweeping branches. I reach out and stroke the lowest of them, bringing their piney scent towards me. The other trees, the ones who have shed their leaves for the Winter, are now beginning to show new leaves. Baby buds of green tip each skinny branch.

We slowly pass a thick bunching of low, lush trees into an opening of a driveway, and there, in the yard, a single, large cherry blossom tree. Snowy white blossoms in full bloom. Stark white against the verdant trees all around it. My steps actually falter and I take one step back, to stop in the moment.

(It was at that particular moment that the dog had decided to also stop. And drop a load. I quickly wrestle a small plastic bag from my pocket and scoop up the mess from the lawn like it is some prized treasure. In this quiet and pristine neighborhood, they are strict, and I am not entirely convinced that there are not cameras hidden in the trees.)

We walk on. Dog sniffing, me breathing, footsteps falling. Birds singing. Leaves rustling. I never walked an area like this in Alaska. Though indeed, surrounded by evergreen trees and birds. It was different. Larger, wilder. The trees heavy with mosses. Old Man’s Beard, or that’s what we used to call it. Pale green and draping off of branches, catching any gentle breeze. The ground underfoot, dirt, and moss, and twigs. Every step clearly made with snaps and crunches. Foot falls were so audible we once scared ourselves as children. Imagining into reality that we were surrounded by ghosts, their foot steps so real in our ears, but our eyes saw nothing. And when you truly did hear the snap of a twig, not brought on by your own feet, you did not stick around. For wilder and meaner things resided within the thick forests of Alaska than neighborhood watchmen.

By the time we turn back, the sun is starting to kiss the horizon. The trees are bathed in a different sort of light. Above me, a tree, naked save for a few brown and dead leaves still hanging on, bursts golden in the last love of the day’s sun.

The house comes into view and the dog becomes excited. She no longer needs to sniff. She turns her head towards me, excitement in her eyes and a smile only a Golden can wear. I know she wants to run. I give her the end of the leash, but it is too heavy and she drops it, which scares her and causes her to bounce away into the ditch. I pick up the stupid leash and apologize. She picks up a stick, renewed excitement. Her ears flop. The flop of a happy dog. She will walk that stick home in victory. But the stick is a little too big and it breaks as she drops it. She picks up the smaller piece, no one needs to know it used to be bigger. She could still walk this stick home in victory. But she eventually drops it too. So I unhook the leash and she bounds the last few steps to the front door. Happiest that the walk is finally over.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 6

I turn to food when I’m stressed. Not in a binge eating sort of way. But rather in a binging cooking show, researching and conceptualizing recipes. You know how they say, guys think about sex every 6 seconds? (…do they still say that?) I am almost entirely certain that I think about food every 6 seconds. (It might actually be a problem, but I’m not ready for meetings…)

And currently times are hard. Hard on many, but hard on the foodies. It stresses me out to see restaurants struggling to stay afloat. It stresses me out more, to go to the grocery store and find food shelves stripped bare of even their dust bunnies. And most of all… it stresses me out to still see all these damned food commercials. Take that shit off the air, it’s rude!

So I watch alot of food tv. None of that Guy’s Grocery Games shit, or Kids Baking Challenge… But like, I love watching professional and up and coming semi-professional chefs. The people who take their food seriously.

Ugly Delicious.

I have followed David Chang’s career for maybe a decade or more. The man loves food, he loves learning about food, he loves developing out of the box ideas.

This episode I randomly threw on this morning was less about food, but all about his first child. They say that Nursing School is the destroyer of marriages. I think that Restaurant life can often be the destroyer of families.

In this episode Dave did alot of interviewing veteran chefs on How. How did they manage to maintain their wildly successful restaurants, AND raise a family?

He eventually talked about how he and his wife learned they were pregnant, the day after Anthony Bourdain passed. He said he knew it was that day because he couldn’t stop crying. That it felt unfair to lose someone so great, and to then be bringing a new life into this world. But it turned out to be one of the most terrifying, and amazing things for him.

And it was kind of nice. Facebook, one of our most used and greatest ways to stay connected during these isolation and social distancing times. It was nice to see… I don’t know, children. To see new life. To see hope. Because, right now, it doesn’t feel like there is a whole lot out there.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 5

I had promised myself I would never do this again. And yet here I am, third time. And just as miserable.

Withdrawal.

Withdrawal from one of the worst meds to come off of.

The first time, my best friend didn’t believe I felt as bad as I did, and accused me of hitting on her boyfriend when I’d asked him to change the time on our wall clock.

Top most symptom of the withdrawal, brain zaps and dizziness.

While, probably not the clinical term for it, it is the most accurate to anyone who has experienced it. It happens any time I move my eyes. Zap. And because you then try not to move your eyes, zap. You close your eyes, and the pressure of your eyelids, zap. Sometimes it rocks thru your whole body. I feel it in my chest. I feel it in my elbows. This electricity that wants out, but is stuck.

And so, because of the care you try to take in conservatively moving your eyes to avoid the electrical storm headache in your brain, you develop this dizziness. You close your eyes and the world slips out from under your feet. Your stomach roils, but you’re just standing there. You sit. You lay down. But even the ground can’t help you.

I am fortunate to be here at home with my parents while feeling this way. But also, have never felt more scared to look and feel sick.

The last time I came off this med, I got so bad I wanted to die. I actually wanted to die. Brain zaps and dizziness are one thing, but I developed sweating and shaking. I found myself curled into the fetal position majority of my time. I had one pill left, I was mean’t to be off them completely, but I would hold the near empty bottle like Smegol stroking The Ring. And I was home all alone.

On the one hand, I gained a new sense of empathy towards drug addicts trying to come clean. On the other hand, I added one more line to the list of reasons I would surely die during the apocalypse…

I tell myself that I will never do this again. My brain is such a jumble I can barely read, I can hardly write. This time I gave myself off of work, to live and write and plan out my future. Not really in the cards…

Vacation Pandemic – Day 3 & 4

Yesterday, while at the store I stood in an aisle looking for something. I noticed an older man watching me from the end of the aisle. Once I had found what I had been looking for, I grabbed it and walked past him. I noticed him then hurry down the aisle to find his own items.

It felt as though he had been glaring at me. No one has been outright rude to me, but I can’t help feeling higher amounts of judgement..

We drove through town, taking notice of all the places still open. Places desperately remaining open, places stubbornly remaining open. People are trying to survive. And ironically, while in an attempt to physically survive this pandemic, people are losing sight of basic survival needs…

We went to the store again today. It’s hard to stop needing things. It is a state of mind I am not used to. That Costco trip mentality. We walk into the store and dried pastas, dried beans, frozen veggies… depleted. Sensible. Sensible items if you’re going to survive the end of the world…

And for as many zombie movies as I watch, disaster movies about all electric power shutting off, post apocalyptic survival movies… it’s easy to say you’d know what to do. But I really don’t. I don’t have a means to set myself up for that.

Instead I joke that I’m resigned to being one of the first to die. I need too much food.

Ironically is my father’s community title. Head of the Disaster Preparedness Committee.

So I’ll continue to live day by day… I don’t know any other way. I will continue to live paycheck to paycheck, buying groceries as I need them. I will continue to go to work, because I work in a hospital. I will continue to go to bed at night, and wake in the mornings…

The small coffee shop that uses the pink breast cancer awareness paper cups was still open. We blessedly went in. The woman behind the counter seemed either high on caffeine, or high on hand sanitizer fumes. But extrordinarily friendly. Giving us more cookies than we’d asked for and pretending it was an accident.

Because, during these times, we can’t forget to be good to each other… we have surely failed as humans, if in the middle of all of this, we forget that..

Vacation Pandemic – Day 2.5

Don’t Kiss Me, Even Though I’m Irish..

I cook because it is the only thing that can fully occupy my mind. Even more so than reading a great book. I always play music. I think it helps fill the negative space. While I work, self soothe.

It’s St. Paddy’s Day. The world is encouraging “social distancing.” What a slap in the face for perhaps the most social holiday, second to Mardi Gras. But these are Pandemic Times.

I choose not to mix the cake dough by hand. While generally it is a good way to work off a stressful day at work, it also leads to much over mixed dough, and in turn, dense ass cake. Today, I use the kitchenaide, keeping it on a gentle spin, just enough to mix. In the background, my attempt at Irish(ish) Folk music fails. The Loreena McKennit station begins playing tracks from Last of the Mohichans, the song from a Christmas movie I haven’t seen in decades, and then some Pachelbel Canon a la The Scottish Royal Dragoon Guards bagpipe band. It’s actually really good.

I research and scratch out lentil recipes while the cake bakes. I don’t even like lentils, but… these are Pandemic times..

I can’t stop from taking a nap. I nap always. I joke that I am half cat, but actually I really am tired all the time. My doctor recently changed my meds. Taking away the fatigue inducer in replacement of one more… ass kicking. In turn, also taking away the med that helped with the chronic back pain. A fortunate side effect. My back has been hurting all day.

I crack open a beer, saving the Guinness for dinner. The Corned Beef has been bubbling in the pot. I boil potatoes and saute some cabbage and leeks in butter and garlic. Colcannon. I mix whiskey, ketchup, and soy sauce. Some odd, but delicious glaze. I pour an extra splash of whiskey into the measuring cup and take a sip. It might be more than a spash. But it’s St. Paddy’s Day and tomorrow the world might end.

The dwarves of Middle Earth begin singing their haunting mountain song. Dwarves singing. While not entirely an Irish classic… I don’t really know what to expect from this station.

I toss some broccoli florets in oil, garlic, and salt, then throw it in a high heat oven. Roasted broccoli, a gamble, but while my back is turned, I stir a pot of cheese sauce. Surely even cheese sauce can give the scortched broccoli redemption.

A quick 10 minutes in the oven for the whiskey glaze to get friendly with the beef, and it’s all done. No boiled cabbage or carrots. The meat is tough from unsupervised aggressive boil while I took a nap. But shit, we can’t all be perfect.

Besides.

These are Pandemic times, and tomorrow the world might end.

Ps: The cake wasn’t dense.