6 active cases, no new cases this month, no evidence of community spread.
Today I put on makeup and packed up my laptop and walked to a meeting with a potential client, my first face-to-face meeting since before the pandemic began.
We sat at opposite ends of a long table that was disinfected before was sat down and after we left, we didn't shake hands or get that close to each other and I found it hard to focus on what I was saying because I was in a room with OTHER PEOPLE for the first time in months
and it felt awkward and weird and though I feel much more myself
happy, energetic, upbeat
after being around other humans I felt weird and apprehensive and I think we all did because even in a province that by all intents and purposes is (for now) relatively COVID-free
we're still in a pandemic and the world is a dumpster fire around us.
After my meeting I had lunch at Wall St Slice with Tineke who I also hadn't seen IRL since the pandemic began and even though the entire experience felt safe and clean and socially distanced
the whole time I was worried about how close people were
how long we were sitting
if our sitting was inconveniencing other people who wanted to sit
and a plethora of other socially anxious feelings that I managed to smother with slices of pizza and a beer and laughing and smiling and catching up with someone I love and haven't seen in
too long, honestly
the uncomfortable, anxious feeling of not knowing what to do, or knowing what other people around you are doing, and feeling like whatever you're doing is the "wrong thing" didn't feel so bad for a while.
Winnipeg has been lucky because (bless us) we're a big-small prairie town with low density and a high level of personal vehicles, so managing community spread seems to have been relatively easy compared to other places. Our cases started out low and stayed relatively low and have been low for weeks.
Things (almost) feel normal again.
But today Colin came over and a bit and as we sat a safe distance apart we talked about the precautions Sookram's is taking to reopen the taproom and about how other businesses are handling things and it was a reminder that
there's still a pandemic out there and until there's a vaccine life isn't "back to normal"
no matter what it feels like when yr out and about
and no matter how many slices of pizza or beers I have.
Today Raymi the Minx tweeted about her book Marketable Depression which I bought and still have and back when I first read it in 2005 made me feel
She was out there talking about her fucked-up mental health and how she was making it work and making a living off her blog and her social life
(today we'd call her an "influencer" but that language didn't exist yet)
I'd read her blog and see that she didn't care about nudity and sex and drugs and alcohol and depression and getting drunk and high and partying too much and used to think
she's so strong. I can turn my sadness and weakness and fear into something like this, maybe.
At the height of my Raymi-reading days I was living in Hamilton and it was a mistake and I was lonely and the part I regret the most is how I treated Peter who just wanted a nice, easier girlfriend without the baggage and anger and sadness
but it was me and it was us and it was then
so I'd drink too much and sit on MSN Messenger or paint or blog on my old old old old blog
(like this, maybe)
hoping that screaming into this empty void
I'd feel a sense of purpose
Like if I leaned into my sadness maybe it would make me unique. Special.
Give me the sense of purpose I was desperately looking for.
like Bukowski, like Kerouac
my value was in forfeiting my pride
to document the depth the human experience
as shitty as
I could make it it could be.
I sat in our one-bedroom apartment drinking by myself wishing I lived in a different city and was a different person and wishing I could maybe go back to Winnipeg so I could party away these sad feelings
and then I did
for longer than I wanna say
and I made my life hard and complicated and chose drama and the wrong
mostly because I didn't think I deserved better and thought that having "friends" who partied for days and encouraged me to shirk my job and overstayed their welcome and drank all my booze and would make out with me even though I had a boyfriend
(who wanted an open relationship so contain your gasps folks)
was somehow what I wanted, deserved, was the best I could do
More like I was addicted to the drama and to feeling bad and being around people who reflected my low self-worth back at me and whose drama and beefing made me feel okay and valued and
gave me something to talk about, write about, obsess about
I was really messed up.
Tonight I picked up Marketable Depression for the first time in years and read through it like the first time and holy shit that book covers a lot more messed-up stuff in a 2020 context but it reminded me that
the only way to make an experience permanent is to
blog about it
because if there aren't words to capture yr experience
what the hell is there?
I was standing in a back lane eating the tiniest radishes that I'd bought from a girl who grew them in her backyard and looking at hand-made soaps and someone started playing it on a boombox that they were carrying around with them like it was the 90's.
That summer I was living in my tiny one-bedroom apartment in Roslyn Manor and the next time I heard it was while drinking sangria in my claw-foot tub trying to fight off the sticky summer air.
My apartment overlooked a narrow courtyard and the apartment across the way was playing it with the windows open.
We all had our windows open that summer.
In the still-warm days of early fall I went camping at Grand Beach with a huge group of girls that I barely knew and in the evening we made spaghetti squash over the campfire and drank wine out of a bag and the next day we went to the nude beach and danced with nothing but sand on our bodies.
While we were dancing it came on the iPhone playlist we were listening to and I sang along through my wine-induced haze and ate cherries from the a picnic basket that also got covered in sand once the wind began to pick up.
I was single, then, and the autumn days were long and beautiful and the nights were longer and even more beautiful and as the winter came and I found myself in love and at the start of something new I heard it one last time at a bakery sharing a slice of key lime pie and drinking coffee.
We watched scattered snowflakes and I felt as though I was closing one book and opening another.
Hearing this song again today for the first time in years it's hard not to feel that way again.
Funny what music can stir in yr heart.
Everything is horrible including the weather, my mood, the world, and politics.
Donald Trump signed an executive order that could obliterate free speech on the internet.
I wish this wasn't surprising but I've actually been worrying about something like this for a long time. Twitter refused to censor him for so long, and now it's too little too late and I'm scared of where this is going. Stay tuned I guess.
Premier Brian Pallister, who recently lashed out at universities and said their staff have an "ivory tower" attitude, is the least popular premier in Canada.
Can we just vote this guy out of office already? Manitoba deserves a million times better than this goon.
I could probably say something critical about Justin Trudeau now but for the most part I haven't been annoyed with him so maybe I'll just picture him dong that hair flip and
I just remembered that the 10 day sick leave policy the Liberals are getting credit for pushing for was actually an issue the NDP were fighting for and negotiated for.
Don't get me wrong: I'm happy to see the policy being put forward, but it'd be nice if the media gave Singh and the party more credit for all they've been doing to help Canadians during the pandemic. John called the NDP "the Unofficial Opposition" the other day and that's basically what;s going on, because I keep waiting for Andrew Sheer to say something of value and
he never does.
But what should I expect from someone who lied about being an insurance broker
(I guess it sounds sexier than "worked as an insurance clerk, waiter, and in the office of an MP")
and spends most of his time criticizing what other people are doing instead of coming up with innovative solutions himself.
Politicians like that are the worst.
Are all politicians the worst?
Maybe not. I don't think so.
I don't think people like Bernie or Obama or AOC or Jugmeet Singh or Jack Layton or the (late, great) Winnipeg City Council Member Harvey Smith got into this racket
I think they got into it to do some good, and I wish we'd see more of that.
Back when I first started blogging in the mid 2000's people would do these weird quizzes and questionnaires on their Livejournals and Deadjournals and Xangas and Geocities sites
(I'm aging myself, I know)
I'm not sure why we all did these. Maybe because quizzes are fun? Or because it's an easy way to crank out a blog post without saying much of anything at all?
Either way, here's one from a long time ago with answers from today. I found this on an old friend's Livejournal and because I've been in the house forever and am feeling nostalgic for the Northgate movie theatre and big Garden City parking lots and
just walking around, honestly
and thinking about how different things are now.
It's nice to reminisce. Pandemic be damned, let's do this:
1. Ever been offered an engagement ring? Hell yeah, front of all my friends at my 30th birthday
2. Longest friendship? Cenquist or Trimble
3. Last gift you received? An Easter Card from John's Aunt Lemire! She sends us one every year and it's very sweet
4. How many times have you dropped your cell? Too many to count
5. When's the last time you worked out? I rode my bike to the bank the other day and even though it was only 20 minutes each way my body was sooooo sore the next day
6. Thing you spent a lot of money on? Food, and things to make food. Books, too
7. Last food you ate? Slow-cooker carnitas tacos with a mango avocado salsa
8. First thing you notice about the opposite sex? Laugh/smile
9. One favorite song? Hot Dog Stand - Begonia (this version omg)
10. Where do you live? Wolseley, in Winnipeg
11. Cell phone service provider: Rogers
12. Favourite mall store: Uh H&M? The Apple store? I don't go to the mall that often
13. Longest job ever had: Working for my own dang self! I've been self-employed since 2015
14. Do you own a pair of dice? Both the regular and D&D variety
15. Do you prank call people? I was never one of those kids who prank called people let's be honest
16. Last wedding attended? MINE. It was so much fun and it feels like a perfect dream now
17. First friend you'd call if you won the lottery: I wouldn't call anyone about it (weird flex but ok)
18. Last time you attended church: Christmas 2018 when we went to the Timothy Eaton Church with my aunt and uncle and Grandma, and John and I sang with so much GUSTO that the family in the row ahead gave us dirty looks
19. How old are you? 32 (have you ever written down your age and had it shock you like "holy shit this is how old I am already?" because that happened to me just now
20. Biggest lie you have heard? "I am a very stable genius"
21. What do you want to drive? I'm not really "into cars" but a Tesla would be neat
22. Where's your favorite place to eat with friends? Anywhere that isn't in my own house and over Zoom would be great, but Carnivale's all-you-can-eat meat swords and slices of pineapple oare sounding pretty good right now
23. Can you cook? I can! It's a fun hobby
24. What car do you drive? I've never owned a car
25. Favorite plant? I like pothos around the house because they're hardy and lush, but most plants in general besides the Titan arum are ok in my books
26. Last time you cried? A few days ago, probably, I cry easily and often
27. Most disliked food: Durian or tarantula*, or those gross microwave grilled cheeses we got from 7-11 on Koh Tao when were drunk and hungry at midnight
28. Thing you like most about yourself? I like that I'm motivated by being useful and making a positive difference. It gives me a real sense of pride and satisfaction with how I spend my time
29. Thing you dislike most about yourself? I get in circles about things that worry me and I have a hard time not obsessing over things that I can't control, but I'm working on it
30. Longest shift you have worked at a job? 12+ hours back at the old Winnipeg Arena - I saw Godsmack and Aerosmith because I worked the concessions!
31. Favorite movie? Oh this is tough - Pan’s Labyrinth, Citizen Kane, 12 Angry Men, Her, and Jiro Dreams of Sushi are some tops, but I have a list that's at least as long as my arm
32. Can you sing? Everyone can sing! I don't have a well-developed range, but I sing a lot these days
33. Last concert? We saw Bedouin Soundclash at The Park Theatre right before everything shut down
34. What are you listening to right now? "Horse and I" by Bat For Lashes
35. What color are your eyes? Aqua/blue
36. Who knows your darkest secret? My therapist
37. Last movie rented? Well this is a quaint question - 2010?
38. Thing you never leave home without? My iPhone
39. What will your epitaph say? "A woman of strong laughs and opinions."
40. Do you like Chinese food? Yup - both the American version, and the authentic, unusual kind
41. What book are you currently reading? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead by Tom Stoppard
42. Is your room clean? Yes, but I didn't make the bed today (quarantine life)
43. Laptop or desktop computer? I have both and don't really have a preference
44. Favorite comedian? Tina Fey
45. Do you smoke? Only the Devil's Lettuce
46. Sleep with or without clothes? Without
47. Who sleeps with you every night? My husband (still gives me a thrill to say that)
48. Do long distance relationships work? Sure they can, it depends on the couple and the circumstance
49. How many times have you been pulled over by the police? Once in a buddy's car and I was so scared I nearly peed my pants (he'd accidentally turned right at an intersection where no right turns were allowed)
50. Pancakes or french toast? French toast but I'm probably gonna go make pancakes after finishing this
51. Do you like coffee? Don't most adults?
52. How do you like your eggs? Pretty much any which way, I love eggs
53. Do you believe in astrology? Not really but I think it impacts people's self-image so that interests me, plus it's fun to indulge and be silly sometimes
54. Last person you talked to on the phone? My grandma, for Mother's Day
55. Last person on your missed call list? Kim
56. What was the last text message you received? Katrina just sent me a video of her Animal Crossing world that she's been terra-forming
57. McDonalds or Burger King? McDo all the way down
58. Number of pillows? Our bed only has four but I wish it had WAY MORE - John isn't into it so we compromise
59. What are you wearing right now? Red stretchy jeans and B&W striped tee
60. Pick a lyric, any lyric or song?
Told that bitch I'm sorry though
'Bout my coins like Mario (Mario)
Yeah they call me Cardi B, I run this shit like cardio
"I run this shit like cardio" is one of my favourite expressions
61. What kind of jelly do you like on your PB & J sandwich? Any, I'm a fan of most jams
62. Can you play pool? Not even
63. Do you know how to swim? I mean, I'm not a lifeguard but I can hold it together in the water
64. Favorite ice cream? I recently discovered that I love pistacho which means I'm growing up, but overall I like cookie dough ice cream
65. Do you like maps? Uh I used to look at my dad's old World Atlas if that's what you mean (I was a nerdy kid)
66. Tell me a random fact about yourself? I won the "Most Enthusiasm" Award for my performance as an extra in our Grade 6 production of Little Orphan Annie
67. Are you procrastinating right now? Ugh yeah, I'm supposed to be researching FTUE's (pronounced fatooey) which stands for First Time User Experience and is not very thrilling work
68. Ever attend a theme party? Bitch I throw theme parties
69. What is your favorite season? Summer
70. Last time you laughed at something stupid? Today, at this video
71. What time did you wake up this morning? 7:30 A.M.
72. Best thing about winter? When I can skate from The Forks to my neighbourhood along the River Trail
73. Last time a cop gave you a ticket? Never
74. What's the scariest thing you've ever done?
75. Strangest thing you've ever eaten? I ate tarantula, squid eggs, durian, crickets, and a bunch of other weird stuff in Thailand last year
76. Do you think pirates are cool or overrated? Who are these dummies who think pirates aren't cool?
77. What are you doing this weekend? Gardening, BBQing, and puttering around the house
78. Who's your best friend? I have a few, but I'm closest to John
79. What is the third letter of your name? Y
80. How old are your pets? 7 (Toulouse) and 5 (BJ)
81. What color is your backpack? Mint green
82. Are you sick? Moar like sickening amirite? (also, no, not sick)
83. Book you are interested in reading? Palaces For the People - it's on my list!
84. Is the bathroom open? What kind of question is this?!
85. Favourite smell? That dusty smell when it's raining
86. Your most prize possession? Some photos of me from when I was a little kid - I don't have many
87. Are you smiling? Now I am
88. Do you have on eyeliner? Pffft no, it's the quarantine and I don't have any Zoom calls today
89. Do you miss someone right now? It's more like a general yearning to be among people and feel normal
90. If you could go anywhere in the world where would you go? Back to Asia in a heartbeat - Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Singapore are all on my list once the idea of international travel or being in airplanes doesn't raise my blood pressure
91. Do you have a Myspace? Oh looooooord this makes me feel old. Not anymore
92. Are you in high school? Ahahaha no, I graduated university back in 2013
93. Do you have a crush? Yeah, and I'm married to him (aww)
94. What is your favorite nickname for yourself? John calls me "Bear" which I really like, and some of my older friends call me "Shaner"
95. What color is your bathing suit? Mustard yellow
96. What's your favorite brand of water? Tap water? I don't drink bottled water
97. Did you go on vacation last month? No because there's a pandemic and we've been social distancing in our house since mid-March
98. Have you ever been on a cruise? No, cruises are a gross industry that shouldn't be allowed to exist
99. Do you have a sister? Finally, yes! I married into three
100. Are you upstairs? No, I'm in my basement office because I'm supposed to be working but I'm putting it off because it's not really exciting work and I'm excited to have a Zoom call with Tineke at 5
Whew! Was that as fun for you as it was for me?
If you do this and post it somewhere, tweet at me and let me know so I can see your answers!
*(Upon further reflection, the durian was worse than the tarantula.)
Yesterday we walked to our local coffee shop to buy beans and stood in a line on the sidewalk out front because only one person can be in the store at a time. Usually you have to walk all the way to the back of the store to pay at the register, but they had everything set up on stools and tables and this little mobile serving station made of wood.
It wasn't perfect but it worked. We got beans and two iced lattes and I never thought I'd be so happy to talk to a friendly face from the neighbourhood. I felt giddy afterwards and thinking about
just how nice and normal it felt
tugs at my heartstrings a full 24 hours later.
We went to Food Fare and it turns out one of the Pandemic Things that I fail at is following the taped arrows on the floor in a grocery store because I spend so much time thinking about what I need and not enough time looking at the ground that I wind up walking down them the "wrong" way and needing to circle back and start over.
But honestly it's not so bad.
Wear yr mask. Smile with your eyes. Say "thank you" to every damn person risking their health and well-being to serve your community.
Yesterday was the last "trip" we'll take into the neighbourhood for at least the next few weeks until we know what community spread is like with eased social restrictions.
Manitoba's cases seem to have plateaued so we're in Phase One of reopening but John and I are spooked by all the tweets and posts about busy patios and parks and too many people lining up outside of stores and not social distancing properly.
I'm sad and worried but trying to have a stiff upper lip about it since we're luckier than most and (hopefully) all another surge in cases locally would mean for us is more time spent hunkering down at home.
I was worried that the minute we eased social distancing guidelines people would go crazy and act a fool and once again the internet confirmed that I was right. It's upsetting to know people are putting each other and their loved ones in danger to stand in a too-crowded line or have a beer on a jam-packed patio
People seem to think they're safe and I hope they're right.But everyone who dies because of the pandemic is someone's somebody and I can't wait until this is over.
spent most of the day in the garden
organizing pots, raking leaves, tilling dirt
drinking beer and listening to The Boss
waving to our neighbour across the street
who came over with his cat the other day.
her name is April
and he brought her over on a leash on his shoulder
until she got too anxious and started crawling up and down his back
cute cat, though.
We spent last night eating pizza
(thanks for the delivery Barnhammer!)
in the sunroom while it rained.
Lots of people were out on their sun rooms and porches, too waving and yelling and saying hello.
Tomorrow we're getting our new BBQ delivered
along with some pegboard and stuff to hang up/organize our tools
and we're gonna BBQ steaks and carrots with red onion and fennel
and wave at our many, many neighbours as they walk by
keeping a safe distance away.
I'm holding up. Barely, sometimes, but mostly together.
There's an order to my days because this is what I'm used to. I've worked from home for six years so I'm not losing track of weekdays or losing my sense of reality like a lot of other people because I don't have a commute to miss or coworkers to miss socializing with.
My office is next to my bedroom.
Podcasts are my commute.
Usually it's me and the cats and the silence of our house and it's glorious. I love working from home.
This is the easy part.
The other easy part is staying busy. Between my agency and my startup I have a never ending list of stuff to do, and because I cope with anxiety by creating structure and routines I'm using this time to focus and build them as much as I can.
We just hit a major milestone with HeyAlfa the other day that's going to blow people away.
I've seen a lot of posts arguing for and against "productivity" during the pandemic and tbh I think that people need to do what they need to do in order to cope.
If that means living in your PJs and eating Funyuns watching Tiger King for the third time then go nuts if that's what's helping you get by.
If you cope with stress by working out and posting yr workout videos to Instagram Live so you can exercise with strangers go nuts, too.
We're all just doing what we can to keep it together right now.
Which brings me to the hard part.
The Hard Part.
the part where nobody wants to write these emails. where nobody wants to deliver this news.
where the weight of being responsible for someone else's livelihood goes from a pressure to a crushing avalanche and even though this is happening through no fault of our own
(they love us, are writing testimonials, have committed to coming back when markets bounce back and things aren't so unstable)
that doesn't make delivering the news any easier. There have been sad nights and stiff drinks and ugly-cries.
Luckily it hasn't been everybody, and strangely enough we're actually closing some new deals so it's not like we're going under, far from it, but things are changing and I miss a few weeks ago when everything felt calm and stable.
(How was that only a few weeks ago?)
In Leonard Cohen's book Beautiful Losers a woman kills herself by hiding in an elevator shaft so she'll be crushed by it and that's what this pandemic feels like
a dark, heavy mass bearing down on us. crushing us slowly.
Sometimes when I listen to the Prime Minister talk or when I hear the nonsense spewing out of Donald Trump's mouth I picture myself lying curled at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The weight of the pandemic pressing cold against my cheek.
The crushing weight of worry makes everything else seem trivial. It's been hard to write. Usually when I sit down to say something lately I've second-guessed myself and thought, who cares?
but earlier today I was talking to a friend about how important it is for us to share our stories during this time, and I realized that I'm acting like a hypocrite
because I haven't really talked about how I'm doing through this publicly, or really with anyone.
and maybe worst of all
I haven't asked you how you're doing.
Two months ago I was boarding a flight to Belize to get married. My worst fears were a sunburn and thunderstorms and whether I'd be hungover for the big day.
Dumb, stupid things, in hindsight.
(But you know how weddings are.)
In late January I was standing in our AirBnB, listening to NPR as we packed up. Reports of Coronavirus spreading. Worrying that it would come to Toronto before John and I could safely catch a flight home.
Just over a year ago we were walking down one of the main streets in street in Old Puket, Thailand. There was an old temple on one side of the street and the other was a line of storefronts spilling onto the sidewalk. One of those stores was a "pet store" of some kind I guess, because all we could see was one lonely dude eating while surrounded on all sides by cages and cages of stinky, squawking pigeons and random animals that aren't allowed as pets in North America.
As we walked by I joked
"that's how you start a pandemic!"
Don't I feel like a real asshole right now.
Just a few weeks ago we were out at Fort Gibraltar drinking beer in fur coats and listening to hip-hop while eating poutine. There were at least a hundred people at that event and we're being told to meet in groups of 50 or less right now. 10 or less if you're in the US.
A few weeks after that I was lugging extra bags of cat food and tins of fish home in case we needed to start social distancing.
That was last Thursday.
We're been at home nonstop since then. Neither of us want to get sick, or risk spreading anything around if we get sick
(I'm worried about carrying the virus and being asymptomatic)
and since we can both work remotely that's what we're doing.
But it's hard to stay cooped up and I miss my friends and I miss my city and I miss all the small businesses I used to frequent and who I know are struggling right now.
(If that's you: I see you. I understand what you're going through.)
As an anxious person it's been a challenge. I've worked a lot because work is easy and gives me a sense of control when I feel powerless, but when I'm not staring at a screen I need to do something with my hands so I clean or cook or scroll Instagram or pet the cat.
Thank goodness for the cats.
It's a weird, strange time and I'm sure good things are coming, but right now all I want to do is stay home and curl up and hide from the world until this passes
which luckily is what we're supposed to do
so maybe I'll figure out a way to make this work.
the province is starting to confirm cases and things are going on lockdown
shows and events are cancelled
the universities and colleges are cancelling classes and moving online
buses are empty which is great because apparently they're cesspools
the lines at the stores are nuts, several aisles long
and businesses are being encouraged to let people work from home.
John's office went remote so he's home and I'm home since this is where I work, and we're cancelling any social plans and not really going outside for the next while.
We stocked up tp and disinfecting wipes just like everyone else
but we went the extra step of buying lots of canned goods and dry goods and freezing extra produce as well
(because you need to eat in order to use all that tp, duh)
and as far as social distancing goes I'm feeling pretty good about it.
I worry about my Grandma, though.
And other people's grandmas.
And even John because he's 39 in a few weeks and apparently this thing takes down people in their 40's now and there's no way I'll risk losing that strange bird if I can help it.
In a few hours I have a Zoom call with the TEDxWinnipeg steering committee to talk about our event in June and whether we'll cancel it.
I'm not 100% sure but I have a feeling that I know how it will go. Who knows.
Everything changes so quickly these days.
It's hard not to be glued to Twitter and the news and all the damn articles and that guy on Joe Rogan and
then there's the debate on Sunday night which you know imma watch
and you know they'll be talking about it in that big, empty studio with no people in it because social distancing
but I'm gonna try and not obsess.
At least we just got a ton of alcohol delivered so if things turn pear-shaped I can drown my sorrows in chocolate porters and box'o wine.
Stay safe and don't forget to wash your hands!