Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.b.20

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I got two books and a movie for my first curbside library pickup during pandemic times.

Contact free library pick up! Woo hoo!

The day in March that it was announced the libraries were closing was the day that the magnitude and severity of COVID-19 became real to me as an actual threat. 

I was at the library on the last day it was open before closing. We had a book club that night. The librarian said we were allowed to check out anything we wanted with no limits. I came home with two bags full of stuff. When I got home, I cried.

Libraries are a lifeline. The library is an important place to me for many reasons. I was very happy when I bought my house that I am in walking distance to my local library. This made me ecstatic. Since moving into my house, I attend adult craft class at the library. I started an adult book club at the library. I use the library for internet access. The library is where I would go to use the internet for my online class through Berkeley last fall. I have attended music concerts on the library lawn in the summer.

Libraries have always been a safe haven and place of respite for me. When I was homeless, libraries were a safe place to take a nap. Libraries are a place where you can be in air conditioning to get a break from the heat outdoors in the summertime. 

Libraries are a huge source of entertainment. Not only can I get books, but also DVDs. That saves me money so I only go to the movie theatre if it is something I absolutely want to see. It also means I have less clutter inside my house. Instead of spending money on books and DVDs, I can use my money on other things. I get books and DVDs free from the library. The books in my home are only my absolute favorites that I read repeatedly. 

As I went through the bags of items I checked out of the library in March, I returned them to the return bin outside the library. I went through all the items and have been content with the books and DVDs inside my house.

When the librarian called me this week to let me know that contact free curbside pickup is now available, I was overjoyed. No one is allowed in the library for safety reasons. However, you can request items online or by phone and can pick them up curbside contact free.

You can ask for exact books, a favorite author, or have the librarian choose something for you. 

I successfully picked up items last night through the contact free curb service. I am so happy to have library access again. We are not allowed to interlibrary loan items (which makes sense). You can only get items that are already at your home library. 

I cannot tell you how much I have missed the library. I am so happy they have figured out a way to safely provide services to us once again. Contact free pick up protects both the library staff as well as the person checking out items.

Thank you, library! I have missed you! 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 15.a.20

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I am so thankful for strawberries. This was the second time in 4 months I have been able to get fresh fruit due to food shortages.

Day 100 of captivity. The natives are getting restless. I have had enough of being stuck inside my house because other people refuse to wear masks and distance. I have no faith in humanity to do the right thing anymore.

It has now been 100 days since the doctor told me to stop going to the grocery store and pharmacy. It has officially been 111 days since I have actually been to a grocery store myself.

I am so tired of COVID-19.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t matter if I’m tired of it or not, this is the world in which we live. At this point, I’m just waiting to die because people are not wearing masks and distancing.

As frustrated as I am with the situation, I do not feel as though I am missing out on anything. I have altered my behavior to keep myself safe. Due to multiple food allergies that react by touch, I did not go very many places before the pandemic. The changes I have had to make to my routine have not been huge. So what have I changed? Here’s the list:

Groceries: This one has been the most challenging. I am so thankful and so grateful for the small army of people who kept me supplied throughout the worst of the pandemic so far. I have now successfully been able to receive grocery delivery so that I am not putting my friends at risk. I am now grocery shopping once per month. As long as I have food to eat, I do not mind NOT going to the grocery store. I loathe shopping in general. I am not missing out on anything by no longer going to the grocery store. I am fine with contactless grocery delivery once per month.

The Gym: This is the time of year when I am running outside. I typically use the treadmill from October to April. I am not missing the gym right now. That may change come this fall and winter. As long as there is not ice on the ground to cause me to fall, I will run outside. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go to the gym.

The Library: I do miss the library. However, I am taking this opportunity to reread every single book on my bookshelf to make the decision whether I should keep the novel or get rid of it. So, I am using this time to engage in a minimalist exercise. I miss the people in my book club, but we have been able to keep in touch with phone calls and letters. The library recently reopened for touchless curbside pickup only. I have requested two books and a movie for curbside pickup. I will let you know how that goes when I pick up my items. I am thankful for the touchless pick up option. If we end up officially quarantining again, I am content to read what I have in my house to make my “keep or donate” decisions.

Church: I have found a podcast that I am able to listen to and enjoy to hear Bible messages. Of course, this is in addition to Bible reading. It’s nice to hear someone’s perspective on how the Bible applies to daily life. I am fine with doing church by podcast. I don’t want to physically go to church and then meet Jesus by getting COVID-19.

The salon: We have reviewed this one previously. I am now shaving my head, which means I do not need the salon. I do not feel like I am missing anything here. In fact, I am using the money I am saving by NOT going to the salon to help pay for groceries. My groceries expense has increased about 3x due to the food shortages and price gouging.

The grocery store, the gym, the library, church and the salon are pretty much the extent of my social outings before the pandemic.

A friend recently expressed concern that I am still isolated (this is by recommendation of my doctor, remember). Yet, I am totally fine being isolated. I did not do much before the pandemic. I do not feel like I am missing anything by not being able to go any place. People’s cavalier attitude regarding this virus right now is scary. It is not worth my life to go out someplace when I have no need or desire to go anyplace. I can communicate with people through letter writing, phone calls and text messages. I’m fine.

Another concern raised by a friend is that they want to see me for coffee. If we weren’t having a pandemic, I would be open to that. Every contact you have with someone is an exposure, so seeing anyone in person right now is not safe.

However, we can still have coffee. Make your coffee and then call me on the phone. There. We are having coffee in a safe way. 

Things around me are reopening. People I know are taking HUGE unnecessary risks with their health and safety that I am uncomfortable taking. Unfortunately, if I come into contact with those people (like at work), then they are exposing me to all of their risk taking. I’m still waiting for my execution date.

People and businesses in my area are not doing enough to keep people safe right now. The safety measures are not being enforced in my area. People are being remarkably careless. No errand is worth my life at this point in time. 

We must remain vigilant. The pandemic is not over yet. As frustrated as I am with 100 days of captivity, the alternative is death. I have three little ones to take care of at home. I’ll take captivity. 

Stay safe. Wear a mask.

End of An Era

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I have to drive the car once a week to keep it going during the pandemic. This is a few miles from my house.

There is a hockey team in Canada made up of Catholic priests called the Flying Fathers. There was a horse named Onion who beat Triple Crown winner Secretariat in a Stakes race. These stories and many, many more, I have heard and loved over the past 24 years.

It was recently announced that my favorite radio program, Only A Game, is being canceled this September after 27 years on the air. I have been listening to the show for 24 of those 27 years.

Only A Game is one of the very, very few things that has been consistent for me through this pandemic. Every Saturday, I can listen to Only A Game. Even though there are no sports right now, they still manage to produce the hour-long sports show weekly. Only A Game is so much more than sports commentary for that week. We learn about the history of sports and heartwarming stories of athletes. 

Through the years, Only A Game has seen me through all four of my college degrees. Only A Game has been one of the few things in my life that has always been there for me, similar to my Adirondack camping trips.

With the pandemic even canceling my camping respite this year, I have been clinging to Only A Game like a lifeline. 

To say that I am heartbroken over the impending cancelation of Only A Game is an understatement. I do not listen to Only A Game for sports scores or speculation. I listen to Only A Game to learn about athletes, sports I love, and to be exposed to sports I maybe don’t love or perhaps even heard of. 

The show has a portion called “Three Stories You Should Know.” That segment brings me up to date on what I need to know for the week. Other than that, it is the in-depth vignettes that keep me riveted every week. 

I learned about a current Major League Baseball star who is also a star on the rodeo circuit. I learned about a photo of an Olympic swimmer that made the rounds on US Navy submarines during WWII that was a kind of inspiration to the troops. I have heard about marathons, scuba diving, soccer, and pretty much every sport out there. 

These are stories that I will not get to hear or learn about once Only A Game is gone. No other radio show or podcast even holds a candle to how well done Only A Game is or what it teaches me.

When Only A Game goes off the air this September, it will be truly the End of An Era. I have no idea what will fill the space left in the void. To be honest, I don’t think anything will. Yes, I can read the newspaper or listen to the radio for sports scores and standings. That is not the point. The point is that Only A Game takes me way beyond scores and standings and teaches me so much more.

I will continue to listen to Only A Game faithfully each week until it is time for the program to sign off the air. I will admit that I have shed many tears this week upon hearing of the upcoming cancelation. 

Anyone who knows me well knows I grew up on radio. I have certain stations and programs that are close to my heart. I listen to radio programs like how other people have their TV shows. Only A Game has been my favorite for over half my life. No other radio program has had a bigger impact on me than Only A Game.

I’m sure that I will be shedding more tears between now and the cancelation this September. Until then, I will keep listening to and keep loving Only A Game each week.

Isolation Log: Covid Date 13.a.20

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Jolene likes to ride on the rollator when I roll.

Trust no one. I feel like I am channeling Fox Mulder from the X-Files. You just don’t know where people have been. The health experts say that about 40% of COVID cases come from asymptomatic carriers. So you may feel fine, but you can still transmit to someone else.

I have been thinking a lot lately that people wearing a mask is just like wearing a condom for sex. They say when you sleep with someone, you “sleep” with every other person that person has been with. That’s why wearing a condom is important. Unless both parties have been tested, you don’t know if you are a carrier for HIV for some other STD. If someone does not wear a condom to prevent disease transmission, then you refuse to have sex with them.

I wish wearing a mask could be the same.

People should wear masks like they wear condoms to prevent disease transmission. You just don’t know where people have been. When someone is not wearing a mask and gets within 6 feet of you, you are then coming into contact with every other person that person has been in contact with. Same scenario. 

Everyone in my area is going around like nothing is happening. No one is wearing a mask. It’s still not safe for me to go out. If someone refuses to wear a condom, no sex. Since people in my community are refusing to wear masks, I cannot safely leave my house. 

That sucks for me. I should not be a prisoner in my own home because other people refuse to take proper precautions. I still stand by the thought that people who refuse to wear masks should be charged with negligent homicide. What do we need to do to make that a reality?

I won’t live long enough to see a vaccine, a medication, or any type of law that is on par with the risks involved. Someone is going to end up killing me as soon as we have to go back to work in our office. Even if my coworkers wear masks and take appropriate precautions, I don’t know where they’ve been. They may (and most do) take more risks than I do. 

Trust no one. With 40% of COVID cases coming from asymptomatic carriers, you just don’t know who has it.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet apart. 

On the plus side, I can say that I am very fortunate in that I am not in need of anything. Sure, there are a few things that would make my life easier. However, I am not experiencing any crisis as long as I stay in my house. 

Your right to “not wear a mask” infringes on my right to “live my life.” But I guess your rights are more important than mine. Just another week in isolation wondering when someone else is going to kill me when I have to go out.

This can’t go on forever. I feel like I’m on death row. I know I’m going to get killed when we go back to work. I’m just waiting for my execution date. 

Until then, I am very happy at home with my cats. Even if the internet sucks and the heat makes my symptoms worse. I would rather struggle to be alive than be murdered by someone’s negligence.

I am very happy to be alive at home for as long as it lasts.

Five Reasons Gladrags Rock!

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Some of my Gladrags in pretty patterns.

Disclaimer: If you are uncomfortable reading or thinking about feminine hygiene products and all that entails, then you should stop reading now. Please go find something else to do. If you are okay with bodily fluids, then keep reading. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

As I have been simplifying my life, I have changed many things from paper products to reusables for various reasons. This particular switch came out of pure necessity and just a little bit of panic. Never in my life did I give any thought to feminine hygiene products. My period has always just been Something To Be Dealt With And Painfully Endured each month. I have always used disposables. I use an insane amount of disposables because they seem to be so insufficient for my needs. I have dealt with leaks and stains on underclothes, pajamas, sheets, towels, and some pants. It’s all part of being female, right?

Then came the pandemic. Of course, that first week at home, guess what happened?

Yup, not only did I have my period, but I ran out of feminine hygiene products. There were no more to be had anywhere. There were none in the stores. There were none online. Everyone was so busy freaking out over The Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 that they didn’t notice the Great Disposable Pad Shortage of 2020.

I proceeded to call all my female friends to see if anyone had any extra supplies lying around they could drop off to me. I figured if I could borrow 2 or 3 from each person … I would have enough to get me through the shortage.

My friends came through for me. God bless them. People dropped off feminine hygiene supplies on my porch so I was able to get through my cycle. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t desperate.

I successfully got through that cycle with the help from my friends. How long was the shortage going to last? How would I get through the next cycle and the next? Everyone is freaking out like “Yo! Toilet paper!” And I’m just over here like “Can a sister spare a pad?”

You all know how I found toilet paper workarounds. I have been saving my newspapers as a last resort option. I am now using cloth baby wipes for pee to minimize my toilet paper use. But what to do about pads? At first, I thought to just wad up toilet paper. I’ve done this when my period started unexpectedly and I needed something “there” for the 10 minutes it took me to go grab a disposable. But toilet paper was scarce too. Then, I’m like, well how about washcloths or something? I was grasping at straws here, people. 

It finally dawned on me – you know that saying “on the rag?” It’s because women used to actually use rags before disposables. Can you imagine a world before disposable pads? I couldn’t.

Lo and behold, God Bless the Internet. Cloth pads are a thing. An absolute thing! 

There are many different kinds you can get from many different makers. I did a little bit of research and decided that a company out west called Gladrags was making a product that would meet my needs. Even though I did some research, I was skeptical about using cloth, but I was also desperate, so I ordered 2 or 3 just to try. They came quickly and with frequent washing, got me through a cycle. I liked them so much, I ordered more. I used all cloth pads for another cycle.

It’s a miracle! It’s amazing! I know I sound like a crazy infomercial right now, but this switch from disposable pads to cloth pads is truly the best thing to come out of the pandemic for me. They are by far the best paper product to reusable switch I have made. These things are so stellar, I just had to do another “Five Reasons … Rocks!” posts about Gladrags cloth pads.

For those of you who enjoy “Five Reasons … Rocks” posts, check out:

Five Reasons Garmin Rocks!

Five Reasons the 1812 Challenge Rocks!

Without further ado, I am proud to present:

5 Reasons Gladrags Rock!

  1. Cloth pads are dependable. You do not have to worry about running out. Whether there is a pandemic or not, I always have feminine hygiene items without having to go to the store. I have cloth pantiliners, cloth day pads, and cloth night pads. I have enough cloth pads to get me through my cycle. Every cycle, every month, from now until menopause.

2. Cloth pads are going to save me an insane amount of money. First of all, if you haven’t heard, when the U.S. Congress passed the CARES Act, a huge coronavirus relief bill, there were a lot of little things tucked in there along with your “stimulus check.” The CARES Act just made it possible to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) to be able to pay for feminine hygiene products! This means that instead of paying out of pocket for supplies, your period is now considered a “medical” thing, and you can use your medical funds to pay for period supplies.

Every once in a while, someone in government gets a brain … thanks to the CARES Act, I was able to use my HSA to pay for my cloth pads. So I did not have any “out of pocket” expenses, which was great, since I am now paying 3-4x more for groceries due to food shortages.

Also, since I now have a complete set of cloth pads to last my whole cycle, I do not have to buy disposable pantiliners or disposable pads again. That is going to save me about $120 a year from now until menopause. I used roughly $200 in HSA funds to pay for my cloth pad set, but will be saving $1,800 from now until menopause.

3.  Gladrags are exceptionally well made. They come in pretty patterns, so my period is actually kind of fun now. Yes, I did just put the words period and fun in the same sentence. Sounds insane, doesn’t it? No more sticky white plastic in your underwear. Gladrags stay firmly attached with one little snap. There is no moving or bunching. They stay where you put them. Que light and the sounds of angels singing here.

Gladrags really know what they are doing in design. I am super surprised to find that cloth pads are way more absorbent than disposable pads. I also have no leaks in any sleeping position. No more blood on underwear, pajamas, or sheets. They almost make my period feel – easy.

Cloth pads are super easy to clean. Just wash in cold water. I throw them right in with my laundry and hang to dry. I “presoak” in cold water to prevent stains. They come out just fine. When I bought the first 2 or 3 to try, I washed them by hand in the sink so that I could reuse them more quickly. Now that I have a full set for my entire cycle, I just wait until laundry day and throw them in with the rest of the cold wash items. They are ready to go for next month.

When I have to return to the work office instead of working from home, I have a cute little bag that came with my cloth pad kit to put the used one in to take home, so no one knows I have it. No different than taking a disposable into the bathroom with you. No big deal. As a plus, cloth pads don’t smell like disposable pads do. Admit it, we all know it, disposable pads smell. You always worry about other people “smelling” you. Cloth pads don’t smell.

4. Cloth pads are so comfortable. I almost forget that I am wearing one. They are way more comfortable than disposable pads. I wish I had known cloth pads existed 20 years ago. My period is no longer Something To Be Dealt With and Painfully Endured each month. Not that I look forward to it. No way would I go that far. Let’s just say my period is no longer uncomfortable.

Cloth pads keep me cool. Disposable pads are basically plastic. They are hot and sweaty. As we all know, my MS symptoms are exacerbated by heat. I am so happy to be using cloth pads now and not have that additional heat source provoking my symptoms each month. I feel like my body temperature is cooler when I am wearing a cloth pad compared to a disposable pad. I am no longer sweating to death “down there.”

If you don’t already think I am crazy, then this one is really going to throw you for a loop. Since switching to cloth pads, my flow is not as heavy and my period ends sooner. When I purchased my cloth pad kit, I was highly skeptical that 10 day pads would last me my entire 5-day cycle. I usually go through like 8 disposable pads in a day. My period is long and messy.

However, the two cycles that I have been through with my cloth pads, my flow has gone from heavy to more moderate. I have less cramping. Also, my traditional 5-day cycle now appears to be a 4 ½ day cycle. The 10 day pads that came in my kit are more than enough for me to get through my cycle because I am now bleeding less!

Of course, this could just be my body changing. But it’s interesting to note that I have only had this experience happen with the two cycles where I only used cloth pads. I will see if it continues.

5. Excellent customer service. I have ordered various food items online during the pandemic and waited 2 months to receive them. Gladrags customer service is amazing. They let us know they were running behind. Yet, I still received my order in about a week. This was going from the west coast to the east coast. A week is fast even when its not a pandemic. In pandemic times, that’s like overnight service!

One of the orders I placed, an item was listed as backordered. That was fine with me, I am waiting on everything else in pandemic life anyway. Well, even though the item was on backorder, I still received it way earlier than the backorder date listed, and someone had put a nice hand-written smiley face on my invoice. They are literally shipping things as soon as they come off the sewing machine!

I had chosen the “surprise me” option for designs when I ordered my cloth pads. I mean, come on, I’m bleeding on it. Who cares what it looks like? I’ve been using plain white disposables for years. They sent me a variety of very pretty patterns to make my period fun. There’s that word again! Gladrags could have just sent me one color or one design. Yet in the middle of pandemic chaos, someone took the time and the care to send me a variety of very pretty designs. Thank you! 

The people at Gladrags are working very, very hard to be sure we all have period supplies during the pandemic. God bless those workers! 

Not only did my orders arrive quickly, but they were very nicely packaged. Each order also came with a little booklet of clear instructions on how to use and clean my cloth pads. 

Conclusion

The only thing I have yet to test when it comes to cloth pads is wearing them while running. I was only able to do one run on my last cycle because the temperatures were in the 90s and my MS symptoms were way too bad to run even with my cooling vest. I was having a hard enough time rolling with my rollator. 

The one run that I did, I used a disposable. I can tell you right now, that was a mistake due to the cramping and severe discomfort I had after. My concern with running with cloth pads is chafing. I’ll have to experiment and let you know if that is true or unfounded. Of course, the ultimate test will come when I train for my next marathon. 

I will see how they feel when I take them for a run. 

Please note, that I have not received any compensation or “gifts” for plugging Gladrags. I did receive a discount on my set, but all sets were discounted for everyone the month I ordered it. So, it’s not like the discount was special to me when it was available for everyone.

If Gladrags does not work for you, there are many other companies and makers out there to be able to find cloth pads. You may not be able to get over the “ick” factor, but if you do, you will be hooked. Trust me, once you try cloth pads, you won’t go back to disposables. Why, oh why, were disposables ever invented in the first place? Well, I’m sure someone is making a boatload of money off of disposable pads. But they aren’t getting my money anymore. Making the switch to cloth pads is the best thing to come out of the pandemic. 

Gladrags Rock! 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 12.a.20

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Well, the pandemic is over, everyone is doing whatever they want like it’s 2018 or something. Of course, this is untrue. However, that is an accurate depiction of people’s behavior.

I can now say that I have officially lost all faith in humanity to do the right thing.

This week, I walked into the village to attempt to find a place where I could get cell service to make phone calls for work. That was a mistake. 

I was wearing a mask and distancing myself from people. I was perfectly fine.

Then, these two teenagers on bicycles who were not wearing masks, almost ran me over. Literally. I had no place to go and no way to get off the sidewalk due to the traffic in the street. By the way, it’s illegal to ride your bicycle on a sidewalk here.

Because they were not wearing masks and were much closer to me than 6 feet, I have now had a coronavirus exposure. There are so many asymptomatic carriers, that you have to assume everyone is positive and you have been exposed if the other person is not wearing a mask. This also necessitated a coerced phone call to the doctor’s office and being screened for testing.

If people would follow the law and wear a mask, I would not have to go through this. The Governor issued the order. It is the responsibility of the local government to enforce it.

While I was making my phone calls, I was standing in a spot across the street from the local post office. I stood there on the phone watching a stream of people go into and out of the post office and not a single person was wearing a mask.

Every week when I drive my car, I see people all over the place in large groups. No one is wearing a mask. That law must be optional or something. Are there other laws in life that are “optional?”

I must be imagining this entire pandemic thing – except for the fact I had to get screened and obtain a doctor’s note saying I don’t need to be quarantined so I can work. Except for the fact that I know four people who have died, which is the most death I have ever personally experienced in a two-month period. But I’m sure everyone is joking. My “dead” friends are going to pick up the phone and yell “gotcha,” right? Wrong. This pandemic is real. It is not a joke. People need to take it seriously. 

It’s all very simple. People need to wear a mask when they leave their home, because you don’t know when you’re going to encounter another person. When you do encounter a person, stay 6 feet away.

Apparently those parameters are too difficult for people to understand.

I don’t have a whole lot to say this week. I have lost all faith in humanity to do the right thing. My community has shown me, first-hand, by their actions, that they do not care about other people. Human lives mean nothing but the almighty dollar is everything. That is the lesson my community has taught me.

In addition to my personal exposure this week, our “local leaders” have been very disappointing. New York State is engaging in a phased reopening. Last week, our local leaders decided to blatantly ignore all State guidelines and recommendations and open our area early. They said that the economy is more important than human lives. It’s more important that people go back to work. If people die, that’s too bad. 

A big part of why people in my area are having such a hard time is due to the incompetence of our local leadership. Our county decided they just wanted to open before the state said it was okay to open. They were sick of waiting. 

Don’t be surprised if my tombstone says “COVID-19.” At this point, I am fully expecting to die or suffer permanent lung damage in the second wave (found in those who “recover”). As a distance runner, that would really piss me off.

We can only control ourselves. We cannot control other people. Yet when other people put your life at risk, what are you going to do about it? The answer is nothing. There is nothing you can do when someone threatens your life. This is the world in which we live now. 

My biggest positive is that I still get to stay home where I am safe. Attempting to leave my house is a whole other issue entirely. I should not be a prisoner in my own home because other people refuse to wear a mask and distance. But that is what is happening. Their “right” to “not wear a mask” is more important than my life. My life is meaningless. That’s the message I get when people refuse to wear a mask.

We will see what things look like when we go back to work, but given how other people are acting, I do not expect to live long enough to see my next birthday. Someone is going to kill me because they decided to not wear a mask. 

The exposures will only increase when we return to work. If people want to risk their own life, that’s fine. But don’t expose me. It’s going to happen as soon as everyone returns to work because you cannot control other people. There are many people in my community who like to take huge risks. I do not like to take risks, but it looks like I will be forced to accept everyone else’s level of risk once we return to work. 

The American dollar is worth more than a human life. At least that’s what our county leaders and local business chamber tells us. 

Every interaction is a potential exposure. 

Stay as safe as you can. 

Buzzcut Pros & Cons

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I shaved off my pixie.

Yes, I did shave all my hair off. I am very happy with it. No one has really seen me to say anything about it. I am anticipating a bunch of negative feedback, since I got some pretty negative remarks when I had a pixie.

I have now had to shave my head twice, so the clippers have officially paid for themselves. Every single time I use them from here on out is money “saved” by not going to the salon. 

The first time I used the clippers, I went conservative. I had no clue what I was doing or getting myself into. If I did not like it, I wanted to be sure to leave enough length to be able to return to my pixie. So the first time I used the clippers, I primarily used the # 4 guard. I used the # 1 guard to clean up around my ears and the back of my neck.

Two weeks after that, my hair was growing and out of control. The second time I used the clippers, I decided to use the # 1 guard on my entire head. Part of the reasoning for this is so that I can hopefully go a month between haircuts instead of having to do it every other week.

In the past 3-4 weeks, I have officially buzzed my head twice. Given that I am at about the one month mark of having a shaved head, I figured I would share some pros and cons.

Pros:

  • I’m saving money. Look, I have been hemorrhaging money on food and supplies ever since this pandemic started. Trying to meet my basic needs has blown my budget all to hell. I have to save money somewhere. The only thing that could potentially be cut out of my budget short of turning off the lights or the water is to get rid of my salon bill. I typically spend $50 a month on my hair. The clippers were $60. Now that I have used the clippers twice, they have paid for themselves. That is now $50 per month I can put towards food. I apologize to my hairdresser, who I think is totally awesome. But this is one instance in which I am breaking up with you, and it totally is me, not you. My hairdresser did not do anything wrong. It’s just, you know, the pandemic killing my budget for the foreseeable future.

 

  • I feel cooler. My neurological disorder is exacerbated by heat. Shaving all my hair off is helping me to feel cooler. In fact, sometimes I feel chilled. I will deal with it. It’s much better than the “MS walk” – which is basically when the heat makes you stagger around like you’re drunk, except you’re not – you just lost all control of your body due to excessive heat and you walk like that for days on end. I wish I had thought to shave my head about 5 years ago when these neuro issues all started. I still get the MS walk, but it’s a little bit easier to keep myself cooler now with no hair, so I can prolong the time before the MS walk starts.

 

  • Showering is so much easier. In fact, I do not have to shower as often. It’s not as if my hair is sticking up in unnatural looking ways anymore when I get up in the morning. I can get in and out of the shower quickly. It saves both water and time.

 

  • Safety. Due to the pandemic, anytime I do leave my house, I shower when I return home. Granted, the only places I am going right now are outside to run and into my work office when no one else is there, but I feel safer showering once I return home to “clean” myself of any potential exposure I may have had while out. Since my hair no longer necessitates a morning shower, I can now shower at the end of the day (or any time of day) once I have returned home. This was especially helpful when I was on a walk the other day and not a single person outside was wearing a mask. I digress. The point is, I am no longer chained to the routine of a morning shower to tame my wayward hair. I can shower at any time of day. 

 

  • It goes with everything. I do not have to worry about a style. I just go, go, go. I feel like I have more freedom with less hair. I am in control of my head and my hair. I do not have to try to get an appointment, drive to a salon, sit there & wait. When it needs to be shaved, I just pick up the clippers and do it. 

 

  • Cleaning is easier. When I sweep, mop, or vacuum, there is less hair to clean up since I shaved it all off. Anyone who has long hair knows, it’s like you shed hair everywhere, and are constantly cleaning it up. I live with three (luckily short-haired) cats, so there is enough fur flying around. But honestly, when my hair was long, I had more human hair to clean up than cat hair. My house seems like it’s cleaner and easier to clean with less hair all over the place. 

 

  • If I die, I want to be cremated. There will be no viewing. Who cares if I have hair? You’re supposed to remember who I am as a person, not my hair. Besides, I already planned my memorial service, and you will have a playlist of 26.2 songs in the key of life to keep you busy. If you all stand around talking about how I shaved my head, I will come back and haunt you.

Cons:

  • I am now wearing hats when I go outside so I do not accidentally sunburn my head. I have a note on the door reminding me when I leave the house to wear my medical alert, a mask, and a hat. I feel like an astronaut on a spacewalk every time I leave my house.

 

  • I’m worried people won’t know I’m a girl. I had this worry when I got my pixie, and it ended up being unfounded. Everyone knew I was a girl when I had my pixie. But with a shaved head, I cannot even put a Hello Kitty bow in it anymore. That’s okay. One of my hats is pink. I’m still a girl, whether you think so or not.

 

  • Negative comments. I received many negative comments when I had my pixie (especially from men) saying I should grow my hair out again because it was unattractive. Apparently, only long hair is considered attractive on women. I’m a little scared of what people are going to say to me now that I have shaved my head. If they were mean about the pixie, I’m sure the negative comments will get worse. Let me tell you, that I am the one who has to live with the hair on my head, and I do not want to have to deal with long hair again. It is way too much hassle. I’m unsure if I will keep it shaved or return to a pixie, but I’m not growing it. Long hair is too much trouble. I am worried about being seen as unattractive with a buzzcut. I guess I don’t really need people to say it out loud to me and confirm my fears. 

Conclusions:

I am very happy I shaved my head. As with my pixie, I wish I had done this years ago. To be honest, my life would have been a whole lot easier when I was homeless if my head was shaved. The conundrum is that when you are homeless, you don’t have money for haircuts, so you just leave your hair long and stringy looking. The point is, a buzzcut is very versatile and gives me much more freedom than any other haircut I have had. 

I am unsure if I will continue to shave my head in the fall and winter once it gets cold. For now, this is the perfect summer haircut. It is helping me to stay cooler, and is totally working with my life at the moment. We all know life is changing every minute during the pandemic. I really like that I can shave my head myself and do not need to rely on someone else right now. 

I have no regrets over my buzzcut. 

Isolation Log: Covid Date 11.a.20

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Jude & Simon enjoy snuggling.

It’s like Christmas! March seems like it was 20 years ago, even though it was only 2 months. When everything was going into lockdown, I had ordered a bunch of supplies online. With the exception of the flour (mostly because I was out of flour), I completely forgot that I had ordered anything.

Last week, I finally received my order of allergy-friendly flour and allergy-friendly “milk.” I was overjoyed. This week, more packages have arrived that I totally do not remember ordering. But they have my name on them, and they are all things I use on a regular basis, so must be I did.

The only way for me to stay safe is to stay home. Unfortunately, people in my area are not being responsible. They are not wearing masks or social distancing. I wear a mask, but if other people do not follow the rules, then it is not safe for me to be out. I will stay home.

In focusing on essentials, the only things I need are food and to continue working.

For food, people have been stellar about bringing me food and filling my cooler. I do not like asking for help, and I do not like to put other people at risk, so I am trying to find a work-around so I do not have to go to the grocery store. I am also trying to find a work-around so that the amazing people who have been helping me can have a break. The doctor told me not to go to the stores, and I do not see the doctor again until July, so those are the instructions I’m following.

As mentioned in a previous post, I have decided to only grocery shop once per month now, similar to when my grandparents had the farm. Worst case scenario, I have to attempt to go to the store once a month at a low traffic time. Best case scenario, I try to figure out how to get things delivered to me. The challenge with delivery is that I cannot order fresh items.

Trying to figure out my new normal, I did find a local company has started to offer touchless food deliveries to people. I will be trying this service at the end of June to order my July groceries. If it goes well, I plan to use it for the foreseeable future. The service uses refrigerated trucks, so I can order fresh and frozen items. They have a “menu” from which to order. It is a company that traditionally services restaurants and schools and is now delivering locally to homes. If all goes well, I will use the service for as long as they provide it. 

I did have a friend drop-off supplies to my cooler today and I am so grateful. I would not be making it through this pandemic if not for so many people helping me. In adjusting to our new normal, I am trying to find other services to “help” me so that I am not taxing my informal supports.

It looks like having coolers in front of homes for food supply drop-offs is going to be a thing here for the foreseeable future.

In other news, I received an application for absentee voting a few weeks ago in the mail. I filled it out saying I need to vote by mail for every election for the rest of the year. Today, I received my first vote-by-mail ballot. It is for the local school board and school budget election. This is my first time voting in a school election. 

The reason why I am voting in a school election now is because the ballot was mailed to my house. It is so much easier for me to vote by mail than it is for me to vote in-person. I wish we could vote by mail for every single election all of the time.

One of the biggest surprises about the mail-in ballot is how easy it is to understand. Not only is voting in person a major pain, but it is difficult to understand the new electronic voting machines that they have at in-person polling places. I found it much easier to understand how to vote with the paper ballot than I do on the machine in person.

There are some throw-backs making a return with this pandemic that I am hoping will stay for the long-term. I am super excited to try this local company offering grocery delivery service at the end of June to obtain my July groceries. I also love voting by mail. It is so much easier and convenient than voting in person. A few weeks ago, I used the special orange envelope to get stamps through my maiboxl from the post office. My mailbox is my favorite accessory right now.

I am loving these services and so grateful to have them. These services are bright spots in a challenging time. Right now, I am super happy about anything that makes my life easier and limits my contact with other people. When I feel safe to interact, I will. It is still too soon and we have the second wave coming. 

What services have you found helpful in the pandemic?

Isolation Log: Covid Date 10.a.20

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Jude likes to snuggle on the couch.

One of my really good friends of over 20 years passed away from COVID this week. This is the fourth person in 9 weeks that I know who has died of COVID. This pandemic has been very hard for me emotionally, and the fact that I am surrounded by irresponsible and ignorant people is not helping. 

Last weekend I went into my work office and protesters were downtown wanting everything to reopen. I overheard one of the evil neighbor kids asking their parent what coronavirus was, and the parent responded “something people made up so you don’t have to go to school.” 

My local school district has been delivering lawn signs to congratulate graduating seniors. They are doing this in large groups of 15-20 staff where no one wears a mask or bothers to social distance. They were all milling around in the street and hugging. 

I will remember the irresponsibility and blatant disregard for safety displayed by my local school district by voting “no” on the school budget increase this year.

Everytime I see these things, not only does it make me terrified to leave my house, but it just plain makes me cry. I do not understand how people can be so ignorant and think that this is fake, when I have experienced such profound loss and death.

One person commented this week that everyone who is dying is elderly. This is not true. Of the four people I know who have died, they have all been in good health with no pre-existing conditions and under the age of 65. I have another friend whose 6 year old is currently in ICU with the disease.

How many more people have to die before people in my area wake up and take this seriously?

I am heartbroken and terrified.

Protesters complain about their “rights” and say they don’t have to wear a mask.

If you refuse to wear a mask, you should be charged with negligent homicide. 

That’s what it is. It is a very simple concept to understand. It is exactly like drinking and driving. If you are stupid enough to drive when you have been drinking, you can kill someone. If you are stupid enough to leave your house without wearing a mask and staying 6 feet away from people, you can kill someone. They are one and the same. The only difference is that a car accident is a quick death; COVID-19 is a slow, long, painful one. 

My greatest challenges are figuring out how to obtain food and working. As long as I can do those two things, I can manage everything else. The challenge is that I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me. If people around me refuse to wear a mask and social distance, then it is not safe for me to leave my house. That makes it very challenging for me to work.

My region of New York is reopening. Of course, it is too soon and people are acting stupidly. Our COVID rate has tripled since reopening started. But that’s ok. People in my county do not care if people live or die. I never thought I would live in a world where the value of a human life is nothing, but here we are. 

On to the good stuff for this week …

After waiting over 7 weeks on an order I placed back in March, the allergy friendly flour and allergy friendly “milk” I ordered finally arrived! I now have food to be able to eat breakfast again!

Once the flour and milk are gone, that is going to be it for a very long time. The factories that make my allergy friendly specialty items are closed. They estimate that when they do reopen, it will take them at least 2 months to get back to capacity. 

I currently have about 8 cups of allergy friendly flour. However, I am going to set about 2 cups of it aside to save for Christmas. I am anticipating that it will be a long time until I am able to obtain my speciality items again, and if I save 2 cups for Christmas, I can make something yummy to look forward to when we enter the second or even third wave of the pandemic.

I am so happy to be able to have breakfast again!

I have been working on minimizing my bathroom, and will be doing a minimalist bathroom post soon.

My neuro symptoms have been getting worse with the heat and I am relying on my rollator more. Luckily, I do not have to drive to work right now, so I am not a danger to anyone else when my vision goes and I am not balancing well. 

As challenging as the tech issues are, I am very happy to be able to work from home. I enjoy being with my cats. I feel safe here. I am also afraid of what will happen to my house once I do go back to work with all of the children running around unsupervised. It was Memorial Day weekend last year when someone took a baseball bat to the side of my house and traumatized my cats. 

Right now, I am taking one day at a time.

I am working from home with my cats where I am safe and very happy about it. I am so thankful to still have a job.

I would love to be able to go out and do something, but unfortunately, I am unable to do so because other people act stupidly. If everyone would wear a mask and abide by social distancing, I would be able to leave my house safely. I can only dream. 

After knowing so many people who have died recently, I don’t want to be next. I can’t leave orphans.

Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away. 

Old Habits Die Hard

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Simon in the window enjoying fresh air.

In times of stress, it is common to fall back on our coping skills. Some coping skills are positive and some coping skills are negative. As we age, we gradually replace negative coping skills with positive coping skills. When you know better, you do better.

Some coping skills are not necessarily negative, but there comes a point when a particular coping skill is no longer needed because you have overcome the problem. Either the life situation has changed so that you do not have that problem anymore to require a coping skill, or you have adapted to the situation in such a way that it is no longer a crisis which prompts coping skills.

This coronavirus pandemic is unlike anything we have ever lived through before. It is prompting all types of coping skills in people, myself included. 

I keep trying to find something to equate to our current situation. After all, the beauty of coping skills is that if they work for one crisis, they will probably work for another.

I spoke earlier how the pandemic is worse than when I was in New York City on September 11. I stand by that statement. At least in 2001, one could leave the City and escape somewhere else where life was still relatively normal. In this pandemic, there is no escape. It is pervasive. It alters our daily routines, habits, and life. It even alters our homes, which is the place of sanctuary for many. Your home is like your lair where you can freely be yourself, and now your place of refuge is being invaded by “working from home.” 

In trying to somehow wrap my brain around this pandemic and what it is doing to life, the only situation with which I can equate the current situation is when I was homeless. Even that is not completely accurate. The only parallel between homelessness and the pandemic is the stress and the scarcity. Trying to figure out how to get food and basic supplies. Other than that, the comparison is an oversimplification. I have someplace safe to live with my family. The only challenge is how to get supplies safely.

Below I am going to outline three coping skills that have made a resurgence for me in the current crisis. I honestly never thought I would have use for these coping skills again. I thought I had finally gotten to a point in life where they are no longer needed. I thought wrong. 

Old Habit # 1 

Toilet paper. Oh, yes, you knew I was going there, didn’t you? Toilet paper is the story of my life. When I was growing up, I would have to make one roll of toilet paper last 4-6 weeks. Now, due to the coronavirus, I have decided I am going to do the same.

I am going to make a 12-pack of toilet paper last for an entire year. I am probably going to be doing this until I die. 

Buying one 12-pack of toilet paper each year saves money. By using less toilet paper, I can take the $5 or $10 I would have spent on toilet paper and use it instead to purchase food. Yes, our economy is that decimated. Food shortages are pervasive and real.

I am supplementing my one roll of toilet paper per month with cloth baby wipes. Some people may complain that this creates more laundry. They are small. I do not think it creates more laundry. Plus, now that I am wearing pajamas twice instead of once, there is “space” for the cloth baby wipes because I am going through less pajamas.

In fact, I am actually saving water by using cloth baby wipes for pee. I flush my toilet less. When I use paper toilet paper, I typically flush the toilet every 2-3 uses so that the toilet does not get clogged with the paper. Using cloth baby wipes, I only flush the toilet once or twice per day. There is no paper in it, unless there is # 2, which gets flushed immediately. 

Old habits die hard: I am only using one roll of toilet paper per month, similar to when I was growing up and would have to save the nickel change from food stamp purchases to be able to afford one roll.

Old Habit # 2

When I was in grad school, I would work Tuesdays through Saturdays instead of Monday through Friday like all of the other executives in my office. My grad classes were on Mondays, so this worked well for me. Weekends were Sundays and Mondays. I loved it. 

It was also nice having a weekday off, because if I need to schedule a doctor or some other appointment, I could do so without having to take off of work. The only challenge was that some places are not open on Mondays. For example, I remember I could never get my hair appointment on a Monday because the salon was closed on Mondays.

Trying to work from home during coronavirus has been a challenge due to little to no internet service. I type things into google docs so that I can copy and paste into an email when I do have internet service. I hope that I can get things in fast enough to be able to send the message before I lose service.

Also, being that I am in the high risk group, I am extremely apprehensive at returning to the office and being surrounded by my coworkers who have many many more exposures than me. I do not feel that is a safe situation. I can only control myself. I cannot control people around me.

I have asked to change my current work schedule from the Monday through Friday back to the Tuesday through Saturday format, and it is going great! I actually get decent internet service on Fridays and Saturdays so I am able to get more work done. This is in contrast to Mondays, where I spend all day waiting for one web page to load, and it may not even be the web page I need. 

Also, if I do have to go into the office, which I did this past weekend, I have the entire place to myself. I can get things done with minimal exposure. I have always worked well independently.

Tuesday – Saturday work reminds me of when I was in grad school. Summer 2015 was one of the best summers of my life, so there are good memories of this work schedule. I feel good.

Old Habit # 3

 Make do or go without. This was the mantra of the Great Depression and it is again the mantra of the Great Depression part 2. It was also what got me through the 4 months of hell when I found out my rent on my apartment doubled (with 2 weeks notice) and I was trying to buy the house.

I have spent so much money on trying to get food these past two months that I have completely blown my budget. It’s different when you have to have other people shop for you and then reimburse them. It’s also hard when you are trying to keep a week’s worth of extra food on hand in case people can’t get to you right away. I am dependent on when other people go to the store.

I do not want to ask people to go to the store for me because then they are putting themselves at risk for me. So I’ve been telling people to let me know when they are going to the store for themselves and I will just add to their list. 

Throw in multiple food allergies to that mix and the food shortages of food allergy specialty items … well, it’s been rough.

So my mantra is to make do or go without. I literally have no extra money to spend on anything. If you are expecting me to “stimulate” the economy, forget it. The only thing I am doing is paying my essential bills and food.

To this end, I have cut out all non-essentials. That includes hair cuts. Hair salons are still closed right now anyways, and even when they do reopen, I do not feel safe enough to go back. 

I am going to isolate and socially distance myself for a very long time until I am sure this is over. It could be years, and I am okay with that.

This means I will be cutting my own hair. 

Previously, “make do or go without” meant that I only had my hair cut twice a year. My hair was really long – down to my butt. What I learned was that only getting it cut twice a year saved me money but was horrible for my hair. My hair ended up so damaged that I ended up having to get it cut into a bob. 

Many people have said that I should grow out my pixie and that I can save money on haircuts by just letting it grow long again. The problem is, that is not healthy. Plus, long hair is a major pain. Now that I have had a pixie, I am not going back to long hair again.

I finally got a pair of clippers and buzzed it off. The clippers were $60. Since I usually pay $50 for a haircut, it will only take two hair cuts for the clippers to pay for themselves. If I do not go back to the salon and continue to do my hair myself, that is money saved I can use for food.

It is going to be a very long time, possibly even years before I will feel safe enough to go back to a salon, to be honest. Make do or go without. I am making do by cutting my own hair. I will go without the salon. 

Another way in which I am making do or going without is air conditioning. I still do not have enough money to get air conditioning for my house, even though it is medically necessary. Heat exacerbates my neuro symptoms. I have to go without, so I am making do.

We are supposed to get a heat wave later this week. I do not have money to buy any more black-out curtains for the windows, so I am going to go ghetto and tape towels and blankets over windows in addition to the curtains I do have. The more I can block the light, the cooler it will be in the house. Or, at least, I hope so. We will see how bad my neuro symptoms get. 

I am making do and going without air conditioning because I can’t afford it, no matter how medically necessary it may be.

What old habits do you have that have come back to help you cope with the pandemic?