I’m COVID positive

My COVID experience started on September 2, 2021, when I made a comment to my co-worker that I might not come to work tomorrow because my throat felt a little sore. It was very minor- just a scratchy sensation. I had been testing students one-on-one the last two weeks, so I assumed it was the overuse of my voice, or my body adjusting to going back to work, wearing my mask for long hours. The next day, more symptoms developed: congestion, body aches, tiredness, which felt normal because I associated them with my recurring sinus infection. On Sunday I spoke to the Kaiser advice nurse, on Monday I spoke to the doctor who expedited a COVID test. On Tuesday morning I took my test, and that night I received my results. It was positive. By then, when I lost my sense of smell and taste, I already had an inclining that I had COVID. The test confirmed it. Turns out, I probably had COVID sometime at the end of August, then symptoms developed 3-5 days later, and I didn’t test ‘till three days after that. It’s easy to see how the virus spreads so quickly.

You hear how unpredictable COVID is, how it affects people differently, how there is no definite way to predict how your body will respond. I know many people who survived COVID, but I also knew a few people who didn’t. I wondered where I would fall on the spectrum. I wondered if my asthma, my weight, my thyroid would affect my experience. When I developed a form of pink eye on the 5th day, I cautioned if my symptoms would unexpectedly turn severe like other cases I read about.

I don’t know how I contracted COVID. There’s a myriad of sources- my husband went to the dentist, I work at two schools where the students are not old enough to get the vaccine, my brother-in law visited one day. I wear a mask, I’m vaccinated and I’m as safe as I can be in public settings. But with COVID, especially with Delta we know it spreads faster and it’s more infectious than the outset of the pandemic. I believe my breakthrough COVID case was bound to happen; it was just a matter of time. It is also worrisome that at my schools, it seems as if there is a positive COVID case everyday; students are in the hallways sitting next to a garbage can, vomiting. The outdoor isolation tent seems to have students daily, waiting for a parent to pick him/her up. When I see students playing, hear them laughing, or witness them smiling with their eyes, it’s easy to forget that we’re in a pandemic, and it seems like kids at school is the right decision, but when COVID cases rise and as I see adults and students get sick and the after effects of COVID unknown, I’ve decided that school is probably not the safest place for people to be, especially those unvaccinated. I’m lucky that when I return to my job, my interaction with people will be limited, and I’m taking it one day at a time.


The support from friends and family, the daily calls, check ins or even the delivery of organic Gatorade from a dear friend were sources of comfort for me. I was also surprised with the care I received from Kaiser. They sent me a care package complete with high grade cleaning solution, sanitizer, alcohol wipes, body wash, shampoo, condition, face masks, gloves, eating utensils, plates, cups, even a thermometer. Although I had most of the items at home, it was reassuring to know that in all aspects of my life, including my health care, everything was easy so I could just focus on my health and healing. Even when I was contacted by Contra Costa County they offered to do the trace contact on my behalf and asked if I needed help financially and with food preparation. I wondered about all the people who were affected at the onset of the pandemic, when a lot was unknown, when the system and after care weren’t as robust, how lonely and frustrating and expensive it might have been, especially the immediate hours after testing positive. It’s an odd time. Many thoughts run through your head and the imagination runs wild. The care I received from my circle, including the County and Kaiser made things feel less helpless, less overwhelmed, less like I was a statistic. This was the care I received for my case; I only hope others receive the same care, especially those with more severe cases.

There’s a mental condition called Survivor’s Guilt , where a person who survived a life threatening situation, while others did not feels guilty for surviving. Many people have experienced this in traumas we’re familiar with such as 9/11, Pulse nightclub, a car accident, Cancer, and most recently COVID. While my COVID case was relatively mild compared to others, I do wonder about those who weren’t so lucky, particularly family members who died because of COVID. Some didn’t live long enough for the vaccine to become available to them, so by chance and by time, I was fortunate to have a chance simply because of a timeline. It could also be because I haven’t eaten meat in over a year, or that I received both vaccines of the Moderna, it could also be because my family prayed for me and my mother in law added our names to a congregation of nuns who prayed for us. Who knows why I was lucky and relatively unscathed. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge those who had a different experience, those who needed a pacemaker after COVID, those whose sense of taste never returned after COVID, those who will have life long lung issues after COVID.

And it wasn’t just me who tested positive. My husband, my brother-in-law and two other people , including a friend’s children, tested positive. It was clear that our 6 degrees of separation had been compromised. Could I have been the COVID culprit? Probably. Most likely. The conditions at my school make it the obvious answer. And I carry a lot of guilt for that possibility. It is wild when I think about it. How a simple action turned into something possibly life threatening. We found humor in the situation though. We jokingly thought about having a quarantine routine or eating an entire onion or durian. And I affectionately referred to us as the COVID Crew. My mother in law, in jest, said something to the effect of: “I can’t believe all my children have COVID all at the same time”. But it all turned serious when my niece all of a sudden had a fever of 103 and then my sister developed flu-like symptoms, the possibility of spreading the virus to them became even more severe. My niece is only three. She’s lived most in her life in the pandemic, and it didn’t seem fair that she was a bystander of poor actions. They ended up testing negative; which was a huge relief, but the guilt ensued. I was sorry and sad. I’m grateful that my family has been kind, understanding and has found humor in a grave situation. I love them very much.

As of today, day 10 of my quarantine, the only symptoms I feel are fatigue, loss of smell and taste and a slight congestion. My days are strange. I haven’t been outside since September 2, and I have urges to take long naps throughout the day. I miss my hikes; I miss my family; I miss my tastebuds. I don’t find pleasure in the things I’ve taken for granted like eating, drinking, or smelling my favorite perfume, a home cooked meal or the wonderful outdoors. I think about the possible long term effects I might endure like COVID brain fog or a persistent disorienting metallic taste in my mouth. I think about the last flavorful thing I ate: a nori roll wrap with sunflower seed pate, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, tomatoes, onions, avocado. I think about the email I got from work urging me to take advantage of mental health services they are offering for free.

I go back to work tomorrow (Tuesday, September 14), and it will be 13 days since I set foot on campus. I’m looking forward to putting this behind me, but I do worry that COVID might make its way back, like others I read about who had COVID twice, like the CDC study in Kentucky. The most I can do is take the same precautions I took before: sanitize, wear a mask, physical distance, wash my hands, get tested regularly. But even with all of that in place, the chances are still there, albeit significantly less, but still there. What I’ve learned from this situation is that being infected with COVID means different things for everyone. Cases vary in degrees and people respond differently- socially, emotionally, mentally, physically. I think about the positives: the support of family and friends. The surprising outreach from work, Contra Costa County and Kaiser Permanente. It seems once you test positive,all hands and feet are on deck and on the ground and an army of people are there to help with the process. I’m thankful for the vaccine; I am assuming it prevented my symptoms from escalating and me being admitted to the hospital. I’m grateful to all of you who have also chosen to get vaccinated as well; it may have saved your life and others. If you are still considering not getting the vaccine, which is now approved by the FDA, I hope my experience encourages you to reconsider or at the very least to have a conversation with those around you, especially those who you love. Being positive affects your entire community. Even if you live alone, if you step foot outside your door, you’re impacting life all around you and there’s a strong possibility that your actions might impact the health of another person. I honor each person’s individual choice and what is best for you and your family. But after experiencing this and contending with all the possible outcomes that could have been, it would be irresponsible of me to not share this story, my story. A possible life may depend on it. And that’s a chance I’m not willing to take. Stay safe and thank you for reading.

Care package from Kaiser
Pink eye photo
One of the fun the things I looked forward to was the phonecalls with my niece and using the filters
The last flavorful meal I had on Friday September 3

What is a healthy marriage?

I read or possibly heard somewhere that every marriage can define their own rules. Since no one was given a handbook or given the wisdom and secrets to a healthy marriage, it’s safe to assume that no one has the perfect or flawless situation. I believe the pandemic, sheltering at home, living on top of each other has exasperated this idea even more. Some say that having time apart is natural and is a healthy way to maintain, rekindle, ignite the spark. Others argue that time away is dangerous- that sooner or later you’ll get accustomed to the distance and will remain distant. I don’t know which argument is true, but my hubby and I are currently trying it.

In the past, we had time apart for legitimate reasons- work, family, emergency. It was never by preference. We always preferred, wanted, to come home, nightly to each other. If hubby had to travel for work, I requested that he take the flight right after work, not the next morning. If I had to visit family, I would make sure to come home, never extending my stay more than I needed to. We always had a purpose for being apart, and we knew that the time away from one another was harder on the person staying home, so we never tried to make it worse.

Over the weekend, the word “space” was brought up and we decided to take action and plan for space this week. The arrangement I proposed was that I would stay home this week and hubby can stay at his parents’ house for a few days. Next week will be my turn. I will stay at my parents’ house while hubby stays home.

What will I do at home alone for a few days?

Nothing grandiose. I do like the idea of stillness and quietness. Having the TV on less. Reading more.

I don’t know how long this arrangement will last. Who knows if we will even enjoy it. But I think it’s worth exploring, even if it seems strange to other people. I’m not excited or sad about the temporary situation. I’m curious and hopeful that every couple can decide, together, what is best for them.

March 2021

March tends to be a busy month for me, and this year was no different, regardless of the state still mostly in shelter in place. 

Some things to highlight:

March 12- I celebrated my 5 year wedding anniversary

March 13- we had a outside lunch for my father in law’s birthday

March 21- we went to Muir Woods to celebrate my sister’s birthday

March 27- we went to Golden Gate Park to celebrate my brother in law’s birthday

March 29- started spring break, my 13th spring break as an educator 

March 24- got my second COVID vaccine shot

March 7- ended my 4th class for my TESOL certificate (only 4 more classes to go)

March 15- submitted my applications for a professional and writing opportunities

March 6, 7, 14, 21, 29, 30 – Went hiking at different places

March 4-6: went to Sacramento to help my brother with his new home

Last March, in 2020, there so much uncertainty about what life would look like in the next few months, let alone an entire year later. But here we are, in 2021, living indoors and outdoors, savoring life in the smallest and greatest ways.

Valentine’s Weekend

My husband and I usually don’t participate in celebrating Valentine’s Day the traditional way. But we do like to keep up with our traditions, namely because it gives us something to look forward to the beginning of the year. Over the years, January has been a difficult month because a lot of people we love have passed away this time of the year. In February, we like to reflect on life and appreciate our blessings. On Valentine’s Day we honor our traditional love languages: we gift each other with food and things that we think will make us stronger- individually and together. This year I asked my hubby to join me on a hike, even though I know this is not the kind of activity he prefers. He often complains and makes excuses like his ankles hurt or that his fingers hurt. But this weekend, he joined me on a hike and what was more thoughtful was that he didn’t hesitate. He understands that my love language isn’t material things but offering support. In turn, I gifted my husband a pair of ipods. I know this is isn’t the most romantic gift, but I know my hubby is looking for motivation to jump rope consistently, and I know music helps him achieve this, so it was worth the investment.

After the hike, we drove to Oakland and picked up a combo meal from Vegan Mob.

I know this isn’t’ the typical way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Or maybe it is. What ever the case, happy Valentine’s Day, no matter if you celebrate it or how you celebrate it. Continue to do the things that are meaningful for you, every day.

My Christmas tree is not pinterest worthy

My Christmas tree is not pinterest worthy. It doesn’t have a color coordinated theme or have big cascading ribbons running down it or have vintage ornaments or glass glittered balls. Yet my tree is still very special.

A few years ago my husband and I started the tradition of collecting tree ornaments for all the places we visited. So far we have over 30 pieces which include memories from New York Public Library, Iceland, South Africa, the Oregon Shakespearean festival and even the State capital– Sacramento. However, the most special ornament is the personalized pineapple we purchased in Hawaii. I remember the trip vividly because it was the first time I had visited Hawaii in over 15 years and we were celebrating our two years of marriage. It was 2018 and I had just started a new job, my sister was about 7 months pregnant, and I was planning her baby shower, and Mel and I had just moved into our new condo in South San Francisco. There were many reasons to celebrate that particular year. I can recall all the dishes, places and beaches we enjoyed during that trip in Hawaii, yet every year, when I take out all my Christmas tree ornaments, it the pineapple ornament I enjoy unwrapping and hanging first. I also make sure that I place it in the front center of the tree, eye level to the couch so that when I’m watching TV or relaxing in our living room, it’s within my visual reach with an unobstructed view. Sure, throughout the year, I have the advantage of looking at my digital photos on my phone and reminiscing about our memorable trip, but there’s something about the tradition of holding the ceramic piece in my hand and running my fingers on the scripted engraving and rubbing the smooth edges of the pineapple green leaves and yellow skin that take me back to paradise.

Building and opening doors

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about my tradition of creating a piece of art for any place I move into. I usually allow the dust to settle and let the home speak to me before I start creating or begin the creative process. It’s important to me to create something for my new abode because I see it as a peace offering– a way to suggest that I appreciate this new space and will take care of it. I also see this opportunity as a way to set the tone — to allow art to speak volumes of the type of energy and spirit I want to cultivate and preserve.

We moved into our duplex in early September, about two and half months ago, and I have yet to create a piece of art for our new place. However, over the weekend, my husband and I worked together to install a barn yard door for his DJ room. this experience brought us many first; it was the first time he and I actually used a drill gun together; it was the first piece of “fixture” we built and it was the first time we installed something that required measuring, screwing and drilling. Although what we created wasn’t a piece of art, the door reflected what I had hoped to accomplish with any art project-to create memories, to contribute to the home, to bring us together.

I’m reminded that every once in a while, it’s okay to break traditions as long as other traditions are made. In this case, I’m don’t mind that I’m not creating art independently. I have replaced it something better: My husband and I created a very practical and beautiful piece of craftsmanship for our new place. I couldn’t me more proud of us.

1,000 words or less

Today I had the great privilege to attend a virtual writing session with the great Veronica Montes, author of Benedicta Takes Wing and Other Stories, a collection of short fiction. Ms. Monsters opened the class with a quick introduction and then an overview on flash fiction. I always find flash fiction to be difficult; I love words- the more, the merrier. So it’s always a challenge when I have to write with a word count restriction. In this case, flash fiction is usually 1,000 words or less and it must be a full story, meaning a beginning, middle and end– and with an arc.

Our first prompt was to write one sentence that tells a character, setting and conflict. We had 10 minutes to write. Here is one sentence I wrote:

In the bathroom, Joyce saw a thin strand of blond hair tangled in her husband’s hair brush, even though everyone in the family had dark hair. 

Our second prompt was to take a character from any of our sentences and write more about the character. This time we had to take three consecutive letters or numbers and write no more than three sentences that explains why each letter or number is significant to the character.

This was our example:

This is what I wrote:

1 is the number of abortions Joyce had. Even though it was 20 years ago, she could still remember the crushed velvet curtains hanging in the waiting room and the surgeon saying “sweet dreams” before the anesthesia kicked in.  

2 is the number of times she made the dean’s list in college. To celebrate, she got her right nipple pierced. To this day, she still can’t drive with a seat belt over her chest without getting aroused. 

3 is the number of times she performed CPR on someone. Once on a student in the middle of her class. The second one to a man who collapsed at the gas station. The third one was her father, who she never was able to resuscitate. 

I definitely need more practice with writing flash fiction, but I’m thankful for the experience today with Ms. Montes and I look forward to improving in the craft. 

Special thanks for PAWA for hosting!

Romance

On the way to the store today, my sister and I had a conversation about romance. I shared with her that the best advice I received about romance was from a marriage retreat Mel and I attended before we got married. It was a requirement for our Catholic wedding, and at the time I placed little value in the experience but now, years later, I realize that much of the advice and wisdom imparted on me then applies to the core of my relationship now.

At the retreat, a couple who had been married for over 30 years stood on stage and literally held hands through out the entire presentation. My first impression was to give an eye roll because I questioned if the overt display of public attention was necessary, an act or genuine. The husband seemed to be leading the presentation, and awkwardly used his other hand to gesticulate his points; meanwhile the wife’s voice quivered at times, both her hands clutched his. But at the end, I understood why they were in complete embrace.

The husband brought up romance and asked if anyone knew what that meant. No one, in a roomed filled with at least 50 couples, raised their hand, or at least that’s how I remembered it. He explained that romance is not what we envisioned it to mean. It’s not always about roses, spontaneity, or stolen kisses. Instead he said that romance is telling your partner exactly what you need. It’s easier said than done, he stated. One has to be completely honest, vulnerable and have a depth and breadth of oneself to fully articulate their needs to their partner. One practical advice the wife gave was to write a list together and revisit it from time to time. She shared that when she was a new mother, she expressed that her needs were a little different than they at the beginning of their marriage, where she wanted date nights, dancing, and vacations. But when she was a new mother, she remembered that nothing was more romantic than her husband allowing her to sleep, getting the groceries and making dinner, or folding her clothes while she nursed the baby. He on the other hand wanted to watch a movie together on Friday nights, go camping and fishing, or wake up to a pot of hot coffee.

On paper and especially in society, these small acts of intimacy aren’t necessarily considered “romantic” but it’s what was meaningful at the time, and while getting coffee or folding clothes doesn’t seem like tall orders to ask, for a new couple with a child, they seemed like the most impossible things to regularly commit to. But they both understood that this is what their partner wanted and weighed a lot of meaning, and sometimes begrudgingly, but always lovingly they were there for each other.

I guessed that maybe, on the wife’s list, at the time what she needed was for her husband to hold her hand whenever she felt nervous; it was obvious that this was difficult for him to do-emotionally and physically support his wife while he gave a presentation to a room filled with complete strangers. But he did it. And when I think about the vulnerability it required the both of them to display and muster during this important moment, I couldn’t think of a more grand and romantic gesture each partner could do for one other.

Photo by Valentin Antonucci on Pexels.com

List to 50

This past Monday, September 14, 2020 was my 6 year wedding engagement party. While this date is not as momentous as a wedding anniversary, when I saw my timeline and pictures of my engagement party, I was pulled back to that time in my life–2014, when I was newly engaged, a budding writer, and imagined my life – five years later a little differently. I remember, during our party, I was sitting on a chair with my then fiance, now hubby by my side and taking in the scene in front of me- family and friends clamoring for the photographer to take their picture on the stage. I recalled embracing this moment because in a few years I predicted that I’d have a novel, house and kids in my life.

Well, that was six years ago and nothing I had imagined came to fruition. My hubby and I still rent; God hasn’t blessed us with kids yet; and the draft of my novel is still in the drive of my computer. Yes, I can sulk and criticize myself for not obtaining my “life goals,” but guess what? I have achieved more that I can imagine.

In Julia Cameron’s book, The Right to Wright, she offers a writing exercise where she asks the writer to write down 50 things you are proud of- small or large. She explains:

“We do not see our size. We do not view ourselves with accuracy. We are far larger, far more marvelous, far more deeply and consistently creative than we recognize or know. We do not credit ourselves with what it is we can- and often do- accomplish. We are blind to our gifts; we are deaf to our voice. We do not see or hear our magnitude. Why is this? 

When people cannot see the larger picture of what it is we are trying to do, they will pick out some detail and pick at that. We have, many of us, had the experience of being all dressed up, ready to go somewhere and feeling pretty marvelous, when someone –a parent, a friend, even the babysitter — picks a small piece of lint off our outfit. Lint picking is focusing on the small imperfection rather than seeing the greater glory of the whole.

We must be small enough, humble enough, to always be a beginner, an observer. We must be open to experience, new experiences, new sources of knowledge and insight while still staying grounded in the fact that what we already know and have done is also estimable and also important. In other words, how do we stay vulnerable enough to and tough enough to survive. 

Valuing our experience is not narcissism. It it not endless self- involvement. It is rather the act of paying active witness to ourselves and the world. Such witness is an act of dignity, an act that recognizes that life is essentially a sacred transaction of which we know only the shadow, not the shape. As we attune ourselves more and more closely to the value of passing moments, we learn that we are something of moment ourselves.”    

Julia Cameron, in her eloquent prose, reminds me that we have to celebrate the accomplishments, however trite and minuscule. Small or not, they carry a significance. So while I may not be where I had envisioned, another writer has gently reminded me I’m where I need to be, and that is worthy of celebrating.

Below is my list towards 50 things I’m proud of. What would you include in your list?

  1. Selected as a fellow for the Squaw Valley Community of Writers
  2. Writing 10 short stories
  3. Jogging 3 miles (although I am currently taking a break)
  4. Making vegetarian pancit for the first time
  5. Google hangout with my parents in the Philippines once a week for the last 6 months
  6. Offering a virtual writing class with 40 attendants
  7. 1000 piece puzzle
  8. Meditating for 5 minutes a day
  9. Webinar for Wonders ELD and EL resources
  10. Making a gluten free coconut cake  
  11. Running a half marathon with my sis and friends
  12. Moving during COVID
  13. Keeping some indoor plants alive
  14. Learning how to apologize and really meaning it
  15. Getting better with keeping in touch
  16. Supporting local artists by buying their paintings
  17. Eating mostly plant based since January 2020
  18. Paying off credit card bills
  19. Achieving and maintaining a credit score of 800
  20. Traveling to South Africa and Iceland
  21. Resurrecting this blog
  22. Singing the Itsy Bitsy Spider to my niece
  23. Parallel parking uphill in SF
  24. Getting accepted in an MFA program and graduating
  25. My job for SSFUSD
  26. Opportunities to read my work for literary events such as PAWA and Napa Valley Writers Conference
  27. Publishing my work in various publications
  28. Accepting my body in any shape and size
  29. Perfecting my skin and teeth regimen (because you know I have an obsession with teeth)
  30. Owning 300 books but reading more than 300

Here are some pictures from our “Books and Beats” theme engagement part. I’m “books” and hubby is “beats”, obviously because I’m a writer and he’s a DJ.

More pictures here

Communication

Lately, I don’t know if it’s because of COVID or the civil unrest happening, but I find myself in more and more difficult conversations where people express anger because they are misunderstood. I can’t remember a time when the volume of verbal strifes have increased and people are putting blame or acting defensive because of what was said or how it was said. It seems that every person that I’ve talked to has expressed a recent argument that they’ve had with a partner, child, co-worker, or friend and the bane of the disagreement happens to center around communication, or more accurately, the lack of communication.

Being able to effectively communicate is a life long skill, and sometimes it’s the difference between going to bed angry or a happy, or a life or death situation with the police, or a job offer or job rejection. So much power and fate can be determined by what someone chooses to say and how they choose to express it.

Recently my partner and I had a quarrel because of Twitch. In short, I was upset because we both agreed that his live radio show would only be 1 hour a day. Well, lately it’s been more than an hour and this compromised our schedule for dinner, chores and most especially my mental health. I desperately need peace and quiet after work, which is also the same time his twitch show begins. Because of the fires, I can’t go outside and because we live in a one story condo- there’s no other place to escape the noise. I want to be supportive of my hubby’s outlet, but we agreed on a time limit, and he wasn’t honoring that. We talked about it and came to a compromise- 45 minutes day. In retrospect, this was a trivial fight, but I think it could have potentially led to a more serious one. With all the previous practice we’ve had with conflict resolution, I think we’re getting better with communicating our needs.

One thing about sheltering in place is that it’s forcing me and I imagine many couples and relationships to have the difficult conversations. Being at home, day after day, month after month, it’s natural that people will disagree. Being in each other’s space, with no respite sounds like a recipe for many verbal altercations. We’re all either going to come out of sheltering in place as expert communicators or a better version of our former selves. I know that I’m not an expert and I probably will never be when it comes to communicating with my partner, but I’m content with the progress we’re making and glad that rather than crying and giving each other the silent treatment, we’re talking, even when it seems like the most impossible and difficult thing to do.

Here we are “communicating” how to take pictures in front of our new place.

I’m the One!

Today I had to write a letter explaining to the owner of a potential home why me and my husband are the perfect candidates from the plethora of applicants. Full disclosure: this is probably the most awkward letter I’ve ever had to write. Mainly because I had to write about myself in a boastful yet meaningful way. It was the oddest balance. In one paragraph I had to explain how I was responsible as a human being and then the next paragraph I had to justify how I would care for the home. I understand why these explanations would be beneficial for the owner, but for the applicant, like me, it felt unnatural to sell my characteristics to a complete stranger via email. It felt so impersonal. But I did it anyway. Like I said in yesterday’s blog: the process of finding a new home is an exhausting one. Then finding the “one” and then having to persuade, via email, a complete stranger to pick you as the best potential applicant feels desperate but normal all in the same vein. Who would have thought having a high credit score, being gainfully employed and preparing a large deposit wouldn’t be the deciding factors to securing a potential house…all it takes are words, and lucky for me, despite feeling awkward about the circumstances, there’s pleasure in knowing that my letter, my words  will be the most significant factor of convincing a stranger that I’m the one. 

Finding a new home

Today my husband and I went on a search for a new home. It’s been a few years since we’ve had to do this, and now I remember why so many people complain about house hunting. It’s a very emotional process. The pictures online are very enticing but are often filtered, so when you actually see the place in real life, it’s very disappointing. The carpets are stained, the square footage is small, the yard is unkept, and the most glaringly common feature is that it just didn’t feel like home. Despite what the homes looked like, as soon as I entered,  I couldn’t picture my husband and I living there. They say that you have to see at least a dozen places before you find the one, and if that’s the case then we are halfway there. 

I know that this is not the time, nor is there ever an appropriate time to complain about a house. One should be grateful to have a roof and bed, regardless of how the roof looks or how the bed feels. There are many people who are houseless and will probably have no opportunity to own, rent or live in a home, permanently. The idea of complaining about the size of a closet or having laminate not granite counter tops pales in comparison to the real houseless issues people are facing all over the world. Just a city over, in San Francisco, I can tell you two streets that have become tent communities, meaning displaced people have congregated in public land and pitched tents to form a community.  This is common, not just in San Francisco, but as more and more people lose jobs and become unemployed and as the cost of living in the bay area continues to rise and as more and more resources become scarce, tent communities will be continue to increase. 

I need to put this into perspective the next time I visit a potential home. Sure, many of them will require me to use my imagination, which actually could be a fun experience, but if I think about the opposite– imagining the option of not having any home– then a quaint, humble, simple place to rest my head is nothing to complain about.

Let’s hug it out!

I can’t remember the last time I hugged someone besides my husband, and even then the hugs he and I exchange are more obligatory than they are passionate. Don’t get me wrong; I adore and love my husband, but when I was looking through old pictures of me in my early 20s, I noticed a stark difference. In almost every picture, I was hugging someone. Some were one arm over the shoulder hugs, but many of them were full embraces. I can’t remember a time, even before COVID-19, where I displayed such a genuine full body hug.

I don’t know if hugging is inappropriate for any situation over a certain age or if I was just living in a different time where one had to be conscientious of personal space, but it was clear during the early 2000s, hugging was the norm. I don’t know what happened as I entered my 30s and now 40s. Almost every picture I have of me, I’m off to the side, my hands on my hips,  or waving a hello or peace sign. I rarely see any pictures of me hugging someone, not even a dog! 

Now with the era of COVID, hugging is deemed unsafe. When I recently saw my mother in law, my first instinct was to hug her, give her a kiss on the cheek, but I knew better. I haven’t been tested recently , and she is susceptible to getting sick, so I had to refrain to what, at the time, felt natural. It was the first instance, in a long time,  I instinctively wanted to hug someone, and then I realized how much I genuinely missed it. For years, I had the opportunity, now with today’s climate, I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance again. 

Sure, the world will eventually return to a new norm, and I’m optimistic that how we greet each other in the future will mean more than what we previously knew it to be. When that day comes, I’ll be ready. My arms will reach over shoulders, backs and arms,  and I’ll take my time to hold and embrace the moment. I don’t know why I refrained so much in the past, but it’s clear to me now how the single act of embracing someone with both feet planted firmly on the ground, bodies supporting each other, wrapping all your love in such a safe public display of emotion shouldn’t be taken for granted. I now know better. Hugs and all! 

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I miss these hugs!

 

 

National Couple’s Day

Today, August 18, 2020, is National Couple’s Day. According to Nationaltoday.com, National Couple day is a day when “you celebrate the one you adore.” Besides that quick blurb, there wasn’t an explanation about the difference between Valentine’s Day and National Couple Day. The website basically gave advice on how to celebrate. The suggestions were:

  • Light candles, turn down the lights and slow dancing
  • Cook dinner together
  • Plan a special date night

Besides posting a collage of pictures of us on Instagram, my hubby and I didn’t do much celebrating. Instead I helped him with a job interview by pretending to be a person on the panel, he folded and hung my clothes to make sure I was ready for the work week, I prepared lunch for us and we both ate in silence. Then he left in the afternoon to go to his parents’ house for a couple days to help around the house. I made dinner and ate alone.
It was just another normal day, nothing out of the ordinary. Even the weather went back to being foggy and cold.
When my husband finished the interview, he was visibly upset. It hadn’t ended how he had planned it, and he confessed that although he had prepared for the last 10 days, he didn’t feel confident. They asked him very difficult questions, and he wasn’t able to articulate an eloquent response. He felt defeated. I watched him throw himself face down on our ottoman. He covered the sides of his face with his arms. He kicked his feet as if he were struggling to swim.
The best I could do is tell him that I was proud of him and remind him that I love him. I also said that he didn’t need a job to tell me he loved me too.
Although we didn’t do anything special for National Couple’s Day, in our own way, we “celebrated the ones we adore.”

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My post on Instagram