Category Archives: COVID-19

A new schedule is beginning!

I will be starting my bachelor’s program at Purdue University Global on June 10th. Due to that, I am going to have to reconsider my schedule and budget my time better so that I can still do things that I enjoy (this blog, for example!) but not stress myself out to the max trying to do everything without some sort of timeframe barrier. So, starting next week, I will be blogging once per week on Sundays.

The other night I was working on my pre-orientation homework, as my live orientation takes place on Tuesday evening. I have to say, I’m a bit nervous about my education taking place solely online; when I graduated college in 2003, I was going to a school. I had school textbooks and an hour commute each way. Online learning is the way of the future – even if we weren’t under quarantine.

Thursday evening I was trying to get it all together and realized my Microsoft Office 365 wasn’t downloaded properly. That threw me for a loop after a very busy day and I should’ve called it quits after solving that problem (which honestly didn’t get resolved until today – “user error”), but I forged on for another two hours trying to review items and submit answers to quizzes…all while feeling more and more discouraged by the minute. I will need to be more mindful of my brain telling me its had enough because I was burnt out and I probably didn’t learn as much as I could have if I had started fresh.

I finished up my pre-orientation duties today and it felt much easier. I went into it not frustrated, not exhausted, not feeling like I was in a hurry to be anywhere. The school’s website seemed intuitive instead of confusing. Basically, it was the total opposite experience that I had the other night. It left me feeling like “Okay, I got this!” instead of “What the fuck did I sign myself up for?!”

So, I get to relax the rest of this 3-day weekend and I’m so grateful for that! I am working on boosting up my macramé plant hangers for my Mercari shop, as I’ve sold 6 this week, leaving only 1 left in my online shop. I have made 5 between yesterday and today and will be making a few more. Then it will be the measuring, picture taking, and listing of each one.

Although I love making them, I don’t know how I will make them and do my school work. So I’m going to finish up with all of the cording I have and then see what I can do. I have made a nice little chunk of change by making these and selling unneeded items online and I will miss that little extra income. That little extra income is helping put an invisible fence around our yard for our dogs.

Anyway, I am happy that I waited so long to go back to school. When I went to school the first time, right out of high school, I didn’t give two shits about it. I was tired of 13 years of school already. I’m ready to give it my all this time. So that will be my priority, behind my family and my current job as a paralegal.

On another note, which doesn’t really have anything directly to do with the above, I realized something this morning: Depression and anxiety haven’t reared their ugly heads in a while. I don’t know if it’s the beautiful weather, a better eating and exercise routine, a caffeine-free lifestyle, or a mixture of all of the above. I feel like I am embarking on this new adventure in the best mind-space I could possible be in.

Something real.

I haven’t spent a lot of time writing about the real things. I’ve dipped into it, dodged it…but I think I’m ready to today, on this lovely Saturday afternoon in Quarantineville, New York, to write about some real shit.

I haven’t found this mandatory quarantine thing to be too difficult. I’ve settled into somewhat of a routine with working from home, still needing to run into the office to exchange files out, but for the most part, feeling pretty productive without the frequent interruptions of the phone ringing and conversations with my co-workers. I do find myself missing the atmosphere of the office though – I’ve found that I sit a long time at home, as I’m not getting up to go make copies, scan documents, use the restroom which is halfway across the building from me. So, without all of that and the interruptions, I feel like I’ve really been ahead of the game, as opposed to behind. I was pretty worried with the attorney I worked directly with resigned and left; I felt like I was going to be under a lot of pressure and then when this pandemic hit, I was even more nervous. It’s all good though – everything’s fine on my end and I’m happy to be working. Right now my wife is not; she was furloughed just over a week ago and had the joy of applying for unemployment this week in a system that’s completely overloaded and in need of a procedural overhaul.

The hardest thing, at first, was knowing that my parents were still in NYC. If you’re new to my blog, my mom was diagnosed with mesothelioma just over a year ago and has undergone chemotherapy and is now going through immunotherapy coupled with chemotherapy. All of her treatment has been at Sloan Kettering in Manhattan, so when the coronavirus showed up in Manhattan, my parents had already been living there for almost a month. In early March, my wife and I traveled down to see them and the number of cases jumped from just a handful to almost a hundred, overnight. My dad was getting nervous because besides attending my mom’s treatments and going for walks, he spends a lot of time online, reading and listening to the news. As things got worse, I just wished that they were back home, in the country. With their things, with their space, in an area that isn’t festering with the sickly when my mom’s immune system is so compromised. Home – where mountains are seen outside of the kitchen and living room windows. Where there’s a yard to walk around in, quite roads to travel on.

By the grace of God, my mom’s cancer doctors in the city decided that she’d be safer back home so my sister went down on a renegade mission to smuggle my parents out of Manhattan. They’ve been back now for just over 2 weeks and it is a relief. While I have not see them (they are quarantined – my mom remains at home and my dad only leaves when he absolutely has to), it’s just nice (to say the least) to know that they are home – for their physical health and mental health. They were renting a studio apartment that was about as big as our kitchen and dining room combined; while there are plenty of places to walk around in the city, the fact of the matter is everyone’s on top of one another, even when they are trying not to be. Hell, the people that have lived there their whole lives probably don’t even realize how sardine-like their lives are on a daily basis compared to living in a very rural setting upstate.

While tomorrow is Easter and normally the families would be getting together for meals, obviously, that is not happening. It’s going to be a very different holiday, indeed.

The most major effect the quarantine has had on me, personally, is (1) the fact that the other night, when I had a MAJOR craving for Chinese take-out, NO PLACE WAS OPEN. ZERO. ZIP. A big cup of go fuck myself was offered instead. My wife persevered, as I was having a horrible day, and we settled on Thai take-out which was lovely, but I really wanted some old school, greasy, take-out Chinese. My wife tends to cook dinner every night; we don’t do a lot of ordering out or going out to eat, so the fact that the restaurants are all closed for seated business has not affected me too much. I will say though that when life goes back to normal, I am really looking forward to brunching so damned hard at Perecca’s in Schenectady with friends and endless mimosas.

The second effect is the fact that since the kids aren’t in school, with no return date really set in stone, they are home with us all day long. They need to be occupied…all day long. Because I am working, they know not to bother/interrupt me unless it’s absolutely necessary, but they also cannot be on their ipads or on other internet-related devices all day because my VPN isn’t super strong and when they are both gaming on their ipads, I get bumped frequently. Kids really shouldn’t be on electronics all day anyway and if you disagree, well, good for you. I’m a firm believer that kids need to run, play, go outside and get dirty…they need to exercise those demons OUT of their bodies, I feel like, MORE SO, when there are two kids. Emma and Jake bicker a LOT, even more so now that they are together 24/7. I’ve noticed that on the rainy days when they are inside, they bicker more. Jake becomes a huge pest (cue the “boys will be boys” adage) if he isn’t getting his adolescent energy out. They are not the type of kids to occupy themselves for very long unless you give them an electronic device and I struggle with that. A lot.

When I was a kid, I remember playing in my homemade sandbox under the big pine tree that’s no longer there. (My parents had it removed last year – it was HUGE and such a pain in the ass because it dropped so many needles, sap, and pinecones.) I remember bouncing a soccer ball like a basketball (because my dad had run over the basketball) up and down the driveway, telling myself stories because I wanted to be an author someday. I remember swinging on my homemade swing set, conquering the monkey bars, and then listening to my Rite Aid brand Walkman for HOURS, waiting to hit “record” when my favorite songs came on the radio station. Long bike rides with my dad, where he’d grab my handlebars on hills that felt steep on my childhood legs to help me up. Sledding at the hill next to the retirement home uptown, where if you didn’t dismount on your sled quick enough, you were taking an unpleasant dip into the stream at the bottom. As an early teenager, my best friend and I would take off on our bicycles ALL DAY LONG, sometimes even crossing state lines and…get this…we didn’t have cell phones! Our parents had no idea where we were exactly and what time we’d be home, just as long as we were home before dark. Walks through the paths in the mountain across the way from my home, my dad carving initials into the side of a tree. Tubing down the Battenkill river on rafts made out of discarded tire tubes; making an entire day out of being lazy on the water.

I want that and more for Emma and Jake – not this childhood full of T.V. shows without a point or any real conversations and certainly not the gaming trend. I am not in charge though. My personality type is to BE IN CHARGE and there are some chapters in time where it really bothers me that I don’t have the ultimate control. Then that chapter ends and a new one begins where I’m fine with being a teammate instead of a leader. I feel like that’s the role a step-parent should ideally be in; a teammate – not the leader. The kids have parents who are very active in their lives – I’m not necessarily needed as a leader on a day to day basis. But I have control issues and I admit that much of the time with things, I feel like I know best. I think that stems from having to make my own way so much through adulthood – I come to an obstacle and I think of a hundred ways around it, not realizing that it isn’t always my job to be the one to come up with the answers. Other people might have answers and that’s okay, too. Their answers can be just as valid.

Back to the quarantine thing – I like home. I like BEING home. I like taking care of projects, doing chores, cleaning. A fun fact about me: every Saturday morning, I look forward to getting up whenever I naturally wake up, and puttering around my house CLEANING. Today, I got up and vacuumed the living room and completely wiped down all surfaces, including the windows. I then cleaned and mopped the kitchen floor. Did my laundry (the last of it is drying outside on the laundry line as I type!), added two more listings to my Mercari shop. My wife and I have sold some items taking up space in our home locally and online. I cleaned and organized the holiday decorations in our basement so now there’s more space to roam free. I’ve taken advantage of the nice days and gone on small hikes, walks, runs, bike rides. I even biked to the office one day this past week in order to change out files. We had topsoil delivered and have added a layer to our garden. So, being forced to be home isn’t a big deal to me and, with the wife home, we are getting some shit done.

Our home has never been cleaner. With me working from home, I have extra time to give heavily-used surfaces some disinfectant love. I have time to do a quick mid-day sweep of the floor, dishes, organizing, fetch with Adam outside for a minute or two. I am hoping that, jokes aside, people are using this at-home time to their advantage. To take care of their shit, to better themselves, to become closer to their family and re-evaluate their purpose and priorities.

This time of quiet can be a blessing, if you choose to see it as such.

Now, I’ve droned on and on. Although the pictures I’m going to share don’t really fit in with all I’ve written, I still want to share. 🙂

My wife and I took a nice, 1.5 hour bike ride today on the Hudson Mohawk bike path. The path took us under the Twin Bridges, which is cool to see from a different angle. It’s also really awesome to see so many people OUTSIDE, as if they are discovering nature for the very first time.

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I’ve also spent some time (not as much as you’d think), creating new artwork. I recently finished up a gift basket as a donation for the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless silent auction which is being done virtually in May.

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I’ve also made and sold some macramé plant hangers in various colors, this one being my latest addition to my Mercari shop (where I go by “DavisAtHome”):

When the wife was furloughed, my first reaction was to stress. “How am I going to support all of us?” “How can we keep this lifestyle, this house? Will I have to turn in my car?” Legit. I had just nearly emptied my savings due to our NYC trip and spending related thereto…all of this hit at a time where I didn’t have a sufficient nest-egg set aside. I can appreciate the importance of ensuring that emergency fund now. Theresa says we will be fine and well, when you’re in a relationship, you have to trust the person. So while I’ve continued to make things to sell, as well as work toward decluttering our home with items we do not use or need, it’s been more of a distraction from the stress and worry for me; it’s giving me a sense of purpose. Seeing the few dollars roll on in from sales gives me a sense of pride and accomplishment. One more thing gone to someone who wants or needs it; one less thing taking up space here.

So that’s the real REAL, folks, from Niskayuna, New York. Not the center of the pandemic, but a few hours north of it. It’ll be bad here soon, too, given the fact that the city is now shipping up COVID-19 patients to Albany Medical Center for treatment. Already, someone local that I used to know, has died from it. There’s no getting around it, but in the meantime, we continue to work, take mental-health breaks, and persevere.

Week two of working from home due to the quarantine.

I’ve never worked from home before this COVID-19 pandemic. I went into it like “YESS all of my dreams are coming true!” – because I like home. I’m a homebody. If I can spent an entire weekend at home and not go anywhere at all I feel like I won the lottery. This quarantine hasn’t affected me in as many ways as it seems to have for those on social media – my feed is plagued with memes about boredom and insanity. I suppose I should feel lucky I don’t feel bored or as if I’m going insane.

For the past two weeks, I’ve *tried* to get up every morning earlier, so I can cycle before I clock in. I haven’t done it every day, but I have done it a few times and, on the nicer days, gotten my exercise outside in the fresh air as opposed to a stationary piece of equipment inside. I think that staying active throughout this chapter in our year 2020 is important; we need to be expending that energy!

On the mornings where I wanted or needed to hit snooze? I allowed myself to do so and don’t feel guilty about it. It’s been excessively gloomy outside lately, which is par for the course for the beginning of April. Resting is okay, as long as I’m not shirking the necessities of what needs to be done.

Whether I get up and cycle or just get up, I get ready to go to work as if I am leaving the house. This has put me in the mindset of “Okay, now I’m ready to get to work,” as opposed to simply rolling out of bed, walking the 15 steps from my room to my work station, and plunking down in my pajamas. While some people may be able to work from home this way, I didn’t feel it would be something that I could do long-term, given that this work from home thing IS so new to me. I do my hair, put makeup on, even continue to pick out my clothing and accessories the night before – just like my normal routine prior to the pandemic. Overall I don’t feel like my productivity was hampered much at all by my working from home. My connection is slower than what I’m used to in the office (oh, how I miss the speed of my work computer and my two big computer screens!), but overall, I feel like I’m moving right along with things and quite able to keep it all on track.

I did realize after week 1 that I sit a LOT more at home than I did at work, as I’m not walking back and forth to the ladies’ room or to the copy machines. So I brought my standing desk home and find I stand most of the day now. My body is thanking me for this 🙂

The boredom thing though? This I don’t get. I feel like it’s been the perfect time to slow down and work on some outstanding household projects, as well as make some crafts for some extra cash. I ramped up my macramé plant hanger production, as people really seem to like them on Mercari. (I re-opened a Mercari shop under the name of Davis At Home and it keeps me busy in a positive way.)

I suppose that is what it comes down to. There’s always things to do – projects to work on. We started our garden seeds and the kale is already poking up. I’ve gone through 2 big Christmas totes and re-organized. I’ve done the laundry and hung it out on the line during the days where it isn’t raining. I’ve picked up, eaten delicious homemade foods, and finished a book. I’ve buried myself in Shameless on Netflix and drank more wine than I used to (I’m having 1-2 glasses, as opposed to almost 1). It’s relaxing. I have nowhere really to be. No one does.

 

 

 

 

 

DIY dry laundry detergent

I’ve had this recipe kicking around for years now and started using it again months ago, when I realized how much I missed making my own detergents and cleaning supplies. With the inevitability of most of us having to tighten our belts and do things a bit differently, I wanted to share this really simple DIY dry laundry detergent formula.

You will need:

  • Box of Borax
  • Box of Washing Soda
  • Bar of soap – nothing fancy (I use Dove’s sensitive skin bars)
  • Container with a lid
  • 2 tbsp. scooper

If you’ve never used Borax or even know what Washing Soda is, you can find it in the aisle with the other household cleaners. They seem to be up on the top shelves.

Instructions:

Mix 3c of Borax with 3c of the Washing Soda. Grate the entire bar of soap and then mix it all together.

…and that’s it! I store my laundry detergent in a glass circular container that has a lid. You will use one 2 tbsp. scooper per full load, decreasing it to half for a smaller load. My detergent lasts over a month, with 4 people in the household, who also use cloth napkins for our meals and scraps of fabric for most of our every day cleaning. So, yeah, we do a lot of laundry!

Borax and Washing Soda can be used for other things, too, which is another reason why I like this recipe. Most of my cleaning supplies incorporate ingredients that have more than one purpose, making it an easy way to save money.

***Check out THIS LINK for other everyday ideas for Borax, and THIS ONE for Washing Soda!

Finances got very tight for me back in 2015 when I left a full time, steady job for a part time kickboxing instructor position. To say it was a significant decrease in salary would be an understatement, but it came with a huge increase in happiness. We made do and I learned how to stretch a dollar pretty far. I was happy to do it because I was doing what I loved, finally.

I can say now that re-entering the office lifestyle back in 2017 was the best thing I could’ve done. No gyms around us are open now and I’d be out of a job, without question. Leaving the law office I went back to in 2017 (which I stayed until October of 2018) was also a good choice because I don’t think I’d even be granted this work from home option I have now with my current job. It’s funny how shit happens – I am grateful for it.

 

In just two weeks – so much has changed.

It’s pretty astonishing how much has changed in just two weeks.

Two weeks ago, my wife and I were in Manhattan visiting my parents. They remain there, despite everything, in order to continue my mom’s immunotherapy and chemotherapy treatments. We arrived late on Friday night and by Saturday, the cases of the COVID-19 had already doubled (or tripled, I can’t keep track at this point) and NYC was in a “state of emergency”. But we wanted to see my parents and spend time with my dad for his birthday.

Life seemed to go on as normal while we were in NYC although when we had to go to our local CVS for toilet paper, there were only a few single rolls left – no packs. That didn’t really alarm us because it’s the city and there’s a lot of people. Perhaps that particular store was just not as conscientious about inventory.

In that time frame, we’ve returned home to a world changing fast. Too fast. Will we be able to keep our jobs, our homes, ours and our family’s bellies fed? Maybe I’m getting too ahead of myself but really? The lack of toilet paper and other paper products here in Niskayuna heightened the state of alarm. It causes a ripple effect – we’re normal people, going about our normal lives the best we can, but when others are stockpiling up on one particular product, it makes it so when NORMAL people go to the store for their NORMAL things – they can’t get it. So what do we do? We grab it while we can, even if we don’t need it for another week or so, because we aren’t sure if we’ll ever see it again. Last weekend when my wife went to the store she sent me a picture of the empty paper product shelves* and indicated that there was no ground beef – hardly any meat at all. She grabbed what she could, which wasn’t a ton, but apparently this aisle had also been ransacked.

[*We try to limit our use of paper products anyhow, but toilet paper is something we can’t really get our minds around ~ this we don’t want to have to replace by using recycled cloth. Kinda ew.]

(Not really) Little by little, Courts, office buildings, businesses are closing their doors for the unforeseen future in an effort to keep the virus from spreading. I am a paralegal (I work in the field of estate and trust administration) and when I got a notice that the Dutchess County Surrogate’s Court was shutting down without a projected re-opening date, it was like – wow, this shit’s getting real. I work a lot in the Surrogate’s Courts in general (and yes, this particular closure does affect some of my files) and while I can continue to work and submit things, it will take a long time for those things to be reviewed and addressed. Which means there are going to be a lot of people out there in limbo.

Talk started around our office about what we would do. Plans were made and then hastily changed because the guidelines on what businesses needed to do changed – so no one got a chance to even get used to what our new “normal” would look like before the coin was flipped, yet again, and we’re on a new path. I don’t envy the leaders in my office at all for what they have to do and the decisions they’ve had to make. People whose hours were cut or, worse, temporarily released because things needed to be trimmed up and kept to essentials. It’s harder because jobs will be harder to come by in the next coming months with so many places closed. A lot of businesses won’t be “booming” enough to be hiring. It’s going to be a very rough time for a lot of people and no one knows how long it is going to last.

The talk around the office wasn’t just interior, it was also with clients, too. My clients have been clamoring for me to tell them how it’s all going to work – how it is going to affect their cases. All I can do is advise them that they can certainly expect delays but that we are doing all we can in order to keep things moving along. In many ways, sometimes I feel like I’m still a kid – I’m only 36. I’ve never been through what we’re all going through now; this is all unprecedented for me and I’m certainly not in charge. The older I get the more I realize I don’t know about the world.

When it came to staffing, we were on Monday “all systems go” on a pretty normal level. We were practicing social distancing with clients, taking extra precautions for cleanliness of common areas but by Wednesday, the more serious talks about some of us working remotely came up. For me, I said I’d prefer to work a hybrid in/out of the office type of scenario, as there’s a lot at my job that does make what I do easier. Now, I will admit, I’ve wanted to work from home for years now because I’m kind of a hermit, but for whatever reason, I really wasn’t too excited about this prospect given the circumstances. It is more of a crisis mode than a decision made freely, without duress.

Management was scurrying to cut down staff to 50 percent, then 75, THEN 100%. That took me from working in/out of the office to what’s projected to be entirely remote, except for stopping in to exchange/drop off files. Thank GOD I work close to home – there’s so many decisions I’ve had to make over the years that lead me to exactly where I am that I am becoming so very gratefully aware of.

Friday was crazy as I was packing up the important things in my office and all of the “on fire” files. My wife was an amazing help, bringing banker boxes out to her car. I have an office set up now in my home in an alcove in my upstairs and it’s bright, clean and sunny. As of 6 p.m. that night or so, I have remote access into my office computer, but it’s apparently going to be a very slow connection. I don’t know what to expect come Monday morning but I told our tech guy to expect problems because that’s just how it all goes.

The staff in the office is being staggered in such a way to comply with the guidelines set, but this new “normal” will take some getting used to. If we even have a chance TO get used to it.

It’s not even the COVID-19 that’s the scariest part, it’s the falling out of so much because of it that is changing our world minute by minute. It’s shocking how fragile our entire system seems to be ~ it feels like a big wake up call.

I will say one thing positive, because I don’t want this to all be sounding all apocalyptic – but when I asked people what they had going on this weekend, most of the answers were “not a goddamned thing.” THAT is amazing. NOT A THING. We really having nothing important to do and that’s pretty awesome in a world that has taught us to be busy, busy, busy. Friends of ours are going to come over today and help us install a new toilet and then we’ll make dinner for them as a thank you and just visit. No time crunches.

Maybe time can slow down a bit, now that much of the extra distractions going on around us are beginning to quiet down. There’s no extraneous shopping to be done, no movies to go and see in the theater. No bar hopping to do. Most everything will be done at home and online. I bet you we’ll be seeing some super clean yards and stellar gardens this year. I bet you we’ll be seeing an increase of bicycle traffic and people enjoying the local trails and footpaths. We will need entertainment and we’ll have to find it in a more simple way ~ I’m here for all of that.