February recap & our own real-life disaster movie

When last I wrote, a month ago(!), I caught you up through where we were at that time (mid-February), so I’ll catch you up since then and to where we’re at right now.

Two great things happened in the last half of February: 1) my sister came to visit and 2) I went down to San Diego to see a great show.

The week of Sandy’s visit, I worked a couple short shifts at the bookstore. They were each 4 1/2 hours only. The bookstore manager told us that for budgetary reasons, they needed to cut back on hours even more. I was okay with it for the most part. I do like the bit of income and change of pace it provides, but I can also find other things to fill my time.

Sandy was arriving on Thursday, Feb 20 around 11:20 am. That morning, I did something that required a lot of…bravery isn’t really the right connotation, but maybe gumption? on my part. I went to the pool and swam laps. Here’s why that’s significant. I’ve never learned to swim. In fact, I don’t put my face underwater (even in the shower, I don’t get my face wet when I get my hair wet). But I can float and maneuver myself from one end to the other. They have lap swim almost every week day. I ‘swam’ for about half an hour. My FitBit said I went 600+ yards, and I took it as a reinforcement of my word of the year (blossom) to try a new way to exercise. Success!

Mom & I picked up Sandy and we stopped for lunch on the way home at a Mexican restaurant that Mom & I like called El Zarape. It was good. After that we came home and…I don’t necessarily recall anything memorable, but that’s one way why it’s so special to see her. It’s not a production of itineraries and keeping every moment occupied. She just blends in to our daily lives. Same as when we visit her. I’m sure we read, chatted, maybe watched something on TV. It was great that she was here.

The next day, however, we did have a plan. We went to Disneyland! Mom sat this one out. Unfortunately, we didn’t get there in time to get a reservation for the new ride Rise of the Resistance, but we still had an absolute blast! I mean, it’s Disneyland. Even when it’s crowded and crazy, it’s still pretty fun.

We walked about 8 miles that days, and the next day we were ready to chill. We got up, and we drove to the LM Theater center where she went to WW, and I went to Starbucks. We were going to meet after she was done and go to a movie. When I left to meet her, it was pouring rain. I got drenched on my walk over to the theater. But we saw “The Photograph” with Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield (yum!). We both liked it. Later that day, after some napping and reading, we all went to what has become our traditional restaurant, El Cholo. It was yummy.

On Sunday, she & I went on a trail walk. I took her to Castlewood Trail, and it was a lovely morning, especially after the rain the day before, everything was super refreshed. The rest of the day was pretty mellow, again full of reading, playing on our phones and with Lulu, and basically just hanging out together.

Monday morning, we bid her farewell, and we got back into our normal routine. I went and hit tennis balls and caught up on some financial stuff.

Tuesday, 2/25, I continued in my exercise blossoming when I met with a guy to play singles. He was one I had played doubles with a few weeks before. I was feeling good about my skills and I beat him 6-3 in the first set. There were some men on the court next to us who were watching and then asked us to play doubles. But there were three of them and then me & the guy, but he said that he was tired and was going to leave so I was the fourth person for doubles. It worked out. I was paired up with a guy and we played against two other men. My partner and I won the set! We chatted a little bit, and they were very complimentary on my playing which was really a boost to me. They said they’re there every week and to come play with them again. Spoiler alert: I haven’t. But it’s mostly because I go earlier than they do. I’m content hitting against the wall and serving by myself, but it was fun to play a real match that was competitive.

I also worked one 4-hour shift at the bookstore that week from 3-7 pm. In the morning of that day, I did a long hike, 6+ miles and it was glorious.

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I also filled out my mail-in ballot for the presidential primary as well as other local elections.

On Saturday (leap day!)I drove down to San Diego. I wasn’t expected at Heather’s until 5 pm so I spent some time at a coffee place for a bit, then I found a nearby place that was intriguing. It was the Leo Castillo State Park. He was an actor who bought this land in Vista as his Hollywood retreat. Now it’s a lovely state park set up as a museum of sorts for people to see how these old ranchos used to work. It was truly a delightful little detour. Once I got to Heather’s, we chatted a bit then headed out for a bite to eat, then we went back to her place to collect her husband then headed to Solana Beach to see the 11th annually 50th birthday show for Steve Poltz (that means he’s 60 now!) We got up right in front and proceeded to drink and dance the night away. It was a pure blast. A bonus for me was getting to hear Nikki Bluhm sing. I love her voice a lot. So much fun, such great songs, such harmonious love and good tidings for all. It was funny because the show last until about 1 am. When I woke up around 7 am, I already had almost all my steps for the day. Haha. I danced a lot!

And then it was March. Since I stayed at Heather’s in San Marcos, I was able to easily drive into Escondido to attend my pal Robt’s reading. It was great to see him. He’s cultivated such a great tradition with many wonderful poets who are dedicated to that first Sunday reading. I drove home as rain came down in different areas.

That first week of March, I started planning for the month. I was going to be going to San Diego again the weekend of the 21st to celebrate Han’s 50th birthday with a show that my friend was putting together for him. I texted people to stay and hang with, made an acupuncture appointment. I also worked at the bookstore. A longer shift on Tuesday (3/3) from 9:30am-4pm, then a 4-hour shift on Wednesday. I was starting to hear a bit more in the news about this coronavirus. I had been hearing about it back in February. I remember when we were at Disneyland, waiting in the single rider line for Space Mountain (we were all about just riding, not necessarily riding together), there was an exhausting group of tweens in front of us, and one of them made a (terrible) joke: “Watch out, or I’ll give you coronavirus!” to which another friend replied, “I’ll give you the Miller Lite virus.” So yes, I was tangentially aware that it was out there. But much like SARS or MERS in the recent past, I thought of it as non-threatening, something happening  in another part of the world (in this case, China). But as I heard more about it, with so many getting infected and dying in China, it was pretty scary but still not immediate.

On Thursday, March 5, I had a 2nd interview for the box office associate job. This time it was at the theater itself with the same 3 people from before plus the theater director. I remember when I got there, I shook hands with the director, but no one else. The other guy on the panel said he was getting over a cold. The director commented, “Don’t worry, it’s not the coronavirus.” Hahaha. I remember thinking, I hope not! Anyway, the interview went well for me, in that I think I presented myself well, was articulate in my answers. I also felt really comfortable when I walked into the theater lobby. It just felt right. But who knows, right? I had no expectations.

I did another long hike the next day and shorter hikes into the weekend. Sunday was the beginning of daylight savings time so we sprang forward. I also texted my friend Laurel who had posted on FB that she and her family were going to be visiting San Diego soon so I got in touch to find out when.

On Monday, 3/9, I worked a shift at the bookstore from 1-6:45 pm. I was pretty diligent about washing my hands or using hand sanitizer and using disinfectant wipes to clean the hard surfaces of the bookstore. Reactions to the virus on social media were kind of all over the place. Some people were not worried about it. Some people were buying up all the toilet paper (why?) and hand sanitizer in the land. No one really had any idea what was going on. I emailed our travel agent about our trip to Sweden. She said that she was monitoring it, but it probably wasn’t going to be as bad as the media was making it seem. When we talked to Sandy that night, the sentiment was the same. We were hearing about isolated cases in the US by now and starting to hear terms like “social distancing” and that people over 70 were high risk especially if they have underlying health issues (aka my mom).  It was rainy and cloudy on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, I went for a walk around Creek Park since it’s mostly paved and the trails would have been muddy. Mom & I went to the library, the bank, and to Trader Joe’s. That’s also the day I got the call that I’d gotten the job! I made an appointment to get fingerprinted the next day. That same day, Laurel called me to tell me that she wasn’t coming to San Diego. Her husband is a pathologist at University of Michigan. He was telling her what they’re seeing regarding the virus. It was not good. It was alarming. She told me not to go to San Diego for the birthday show. She told me what social distancing means. I gave her multiple scenarios I’ve been in, and she reassured me I would be fine but to stay vigilant, keep washing my hands, make sure my mom is safe. I asked where we were in the movie. She said we’re at the part where the zombie apocalypse has started but not everyone believes it yet. She also said that what her husband said quite bluntly was that the young people are going to kill the old people. That’s some scary shit.

After I got off the phone, I texted my pals in SD and said it was too risky for me to attend the show. They understood. Many people were starting to understand that this thing was much closer to home and much worse than we realized. In fact, I would say Wednesday was the day it all ratcheted up quite a bit. An NBA player was diagnosed (from my sister’s fav team, the Utah Jazz). Shortly after that, the NBA cancelled the rest of the season. But that wasn’t the first big cancellation. I think the first big one was SXSW in Austin. Now all the sports (NHL, MLB) have cancelled or suspended the season. Big events (100-250+) are being cancelled. That means theater, concerts, sports, school. People are being encouraged to work from home if they can (which brings up a whole other thread about how corporations that, in the past, said people [aka disabled or those needing accommodations] couldn’t work from home but now are able to, always could have but the corps wouldn’t allow it, the profits over people angle is a bad take right now). Travel bans were announced from Europe to the US (except US citizens coming back). Social media exploded with all kinds of advice and news, some false. The one that many people (scientists, mathematicians) are trying to lift to the top is the concept of flattening the curve, meaning if we do what we can NOW to stop the spread of the virus, the outbreak will be better contained. The thing that seems to me is the most difficult for people to understand is that symptoms don’t present for up to 2 weeks. So you could be infected and not know it, think you’re totally fine and go out into crowds of people and unknowingly be infecting others (thus the young people killing the old people). Then when you do start feeling symptomatic, the next thing that’s causing this shitstorm is that there aren’t enough tests to know for sure. There’s no vaccine yet. The hospitals and health care system will quickly become overwhelmed and sick people and people who are not yet sick but infected are just out and about. Thus the need for social distancing.

Thursday, I got an email from my manager at the bookstore that the college was moving to all online classes so the bookstore would be on reduced hours or closed all together for the time being. I went for the fingerprinting. The woman from HR I met tried to shake my hand, and I declined. She said that was fine, but she also seemed a little weirded out. It was pouring that day. I got fingerprinted. The next step, she said, was I would get a medical form to take to a walk-in clinic within 3 days for my physical and drug testing (what can I say, even though it’s part-time, it’s still a city job). But I’ll ask her if there can be an extension. The theater is not having performances for the rest of March so I doubt the job would even be available to me even if I did get the physical. I’ll wait to hear from her.

Meanwhile, much like they had to do in China when this virus broke out, all of Italy (yes, the entire country) is on lockdown. People are posting videos on Twitter of Italians coming out on their balconies in the evenings to sing with each other.

As for me and Mom, it doesn’t feel much different than other days to be honest. We stick around the house for the most part anyway, other than my walks or tennis which are never crowded. I’ve gone out to Starbucks and like this morning, to the donut store. I’m careful not to touch anything and to keep a distance between myself and other people (they say 6 ft). I don’t have any symptoms and neither does Mom. My only worry is that people are now “panic buying” all the groceries. I already mentioned the toilet paper is gone. But now also water, food, cleaning supplies. The stores, from the anecdotal news I get from social media, are wiped out. So when it comes time when we need stuff, I just don’t know that it will be there to get. But I also don’t want to go out to get it now and be in these serious crowds of people in the stores. A conundrum.

So the rest of the month is just about staying home. Many things that were cancelled last week said it would be until April or maybe 30 days. Hopefully that’s true.

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