Has Spring Sprung?

It is the first day of April as I write this. The trees outside my window are starting to bud and I see pigeons every day. Baseball season starts today and I joined a fantasy league with a few old college friends like I do every spring.

Spent the morning in my complex’s library a couple days ago. Caught up with a few neighbors I hadn’t seen during the winter. I’m still a little paranoid about venturing out even though millions of people are already vaccinated. I read a lot to pass the time. Still do audiobooks a couple hours a day in addition to traditional paper books. Bought groceries this morning. So I’m set for several days.

Still sleeping a lot. I usually go to bed around 10pm, wake up in the middle of the night to visit the bathroom, and then usually get up for good shortly after 6am. I sometimes nap in the early afternoons. The best time for me to host visitors is usually late mornings or the noon hour.

I don’t have plans for Easter, at least not yet. Probably going to call family and friends after church services. I might be more into it if I were near my nephews and niece or my cousins’ kids. My aunt usually hosts Easter dinner and all my cousins’ bring their families. It was cancelled last year due to covid and I don’t know the plans for this year. I’ll probably do zoom calls to my parents and brother’s kids.

Saw my parents a couple weeks ago. First time I got to see them since Christmas. My parents said they are proud of how I have handled the pandemic, being essentially on my own for a year while handling a mental illness. Other than a couple breakdowns, I think I’ve done alright. Sure I don’t socialize much, at least not in person. But I’ve always been an introvert who appreciated alone time and people in small doses. A few people in my complex had the covid already. Two friends of mine have had it. Three of my cousins had it. A lady who had sold some acreage land to my parents years ago died from it. I’ve heard that Germany and France are back on lockdowns again. Vaccines are still going out hard and heavy here in the US. Cases are starting to increase again here in the US after weeks of decline. I was afraid cases would increase once the weather started warming and people went out in large crowds more.

Looks like winter has ended. I wouldn’t be surprised if we do get another snow storm or two. But they won’t last long now. I think spring has sprung.

Push For Spring

Weather has finally warmed up after a couple weeks of the most frigid cold I have experienced since childhood. I never lost power or water. A friend of mine in Omaha said they had rolling black outs but she was without power for only a couple hours.

I weathered the worst of winter pretty well. Even though I don’t leave my apartment every day, I still keep in contact with friends and family. My neighbor and I drop in on each other a few times a week to check in on each other. I did sleep a lot this winter but haven’t had any truly serious problems. Still get groceries delivered a few times a month.

Mentally I’m stable. At least as stable as I can be during a pandemic. I’ve had a few breakdowns over the last year. But they were short lived and didn’t require meds changes or going the the hospital. It sometimes gets lonely, to be sure. I’m glad I love to read and can keep myself occupied that way. While I’m not currently on any major reading projects, I usually spend a couple hours a day reading online articles. Most of them are science, tech, and business related. I try to avoid most things about politics. Too divisive and stressful for my tastes.

As far as computer games go, I’ve dusted a few of my older games off and been messing with those lately. I’ve gotten into Medieval Total War and the Railroad Tycoon series the last couple weeks. Sometimes I’ll do PlayStation Madden NFL or FIFA Soccer for a change up. I can’t really get into first person shooter games much. They just don’t hold my interest quite like Civilization or the Total War series.

Still doing lots of cooking. My cleaning lady told me she can tell a good cook by how messy the kitchen is after a meal. I still don’t eat fast food very often. Actually haven’t had any fast food since before Christmas. Most fast food upsets my stomach and makes me feel sluggish any more. But I do make lots of soups and pasta dishes. I do grilling on the Foreman grill too. Don’t do any baking or desserts though. I haven’t tried my hand at baking sourdough bread yet.

Been watching small college football on the weekends. It seems weird to be watching football in February. But then the last year has been anything but typical. I renewed my ESPN Plus subscription so I can catch some of these games. And baseball spring training has been going for almost a couple weeks now. I don’t usually feel like winter is ending until I’ve seen a preseason baseball game or two.

My parents have now had both rounds of the covid vaccine. They’re getting out and about more often. They pick up the grandkids from school usually a couple times per week and do in person shopping and church. And I heard that a third vaccine has been approved here in the US just a couple days ago. Maybe we are starting to see the end of the line for this pandemic. I probably will get my vaccine sometime this summer. Not being a senior citizen or essential worker means I’m pretty low priority. But I’ve avoided getting sick for a year now. A few more months is manageable.

December 5 2020

I’m probably spending Christmas 2020 by myself this year. I think it’s still too risky for my elderly parents to travel several hundred miles during a pandemic. I see vaccine distributions will start right before Christmas here in the USA. I read that England approved theirs a few days ago. I’ll probably get mine in the spring. Meanwhile I’ll probably spend winter close to my home, wear masks when I have guests, and spend my days reading and working on computers.

Bought some groceries yesterday. Talk to my neighbors for a few minutes every day. One of my neighbors, whom is still very mobile, often picks up mail and packages for the less mobile residents of my complex. I gave him several facemasks as he’s often on the go.

I’m starting to sleep less again. I’m up late most nights. But haven’t felt any ill side effects yet. Started lifting weights a week ago. I haven’t had problems with paranoia for weeks. I also don’t notice people walking and talking in the hallways as much lately.

Thanksgiving During Pandemic

I’m spending my Thanksgiving in my apartment this year. I couldn’t get my ham so I’m grilling bratwursts and making a large pot of cheese soup instead. I’ll also be doing Zoom calls with my parents and my brother’s family. I think most people in my complex are either staying home or going to local relatives. My cleaning lady said she’d bring a plate for me and the rest of her disabled clients.

Been listening to audiobooks more lately. Currently a couple hours into some Nietchze. As far as my other projects for pandemic, I recently finished Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. I started back in February and finished a few days ago. Certainly a worthwhile read for anyone interested in history and economics. Granted it’s really long, almost as long as the Bible. Been reading more poetry too, mostly Emerson, Whitman, and Dickenson. Read some Kipling this summer.

Read in the news yesterday a third vaccine is ready for FDA approval. I think it’s from AstraZenica. I just hope enough people use it and distribution can be solved. I imagine front line health care workers, police, and military will be the first in line Hopefully I can get mine sometime by summer 2021. In the meantime, I’m avoiding crowds and wearing masks when I meet delivery drivers. For the ones that don’t come to my apartment, one of my healthier neighbors will drop off packages for myself and the other shut ins.

I did have a slight flare up over the weekend. Thankfully it was short lived. Nothing a few minutes of ranting and several hours of sleep couldn’t solve. Overall I’m doing well even if I am voluntarily isolating. I just hope this burns out soon.

Inspiration and Bringing To Light The Things Done In Secret

Even though I’ve been feeling hopeful and optimistic overall during the last couple weeks, I still don’t socialize in person much. Then again, that could be why I’m optimistic. While most people have been allowing themselves to be bombarded by constant bad news, I’ve been making efforts to figure out what is actually going right. My entire life I’ve heard that the world was messed up and we would collapse back to the Stone Age any day now. It really messed with my head when I was growing up. It was one of the reasons I preferred to spend most of my days alone in my backyard. I’d spend hours on end out there pacing through the cedar and cherry trees making up stories. I’d made up stories of heroes, future worlds where we solved most of our current problems (like climate change, poverty, war, disease, etc.) and were exploring outer and inner space. I never read comic books or science fiction novels as a kid. The nearest bookstore was over an hour drive away. Most people in my hometown thought “The Simpsons” and “South Park” were morally degenerate but war movies, westerns, and crime dramas were “wholesome family entertainment.”

As I didn’t have much inspiring hope in me as a kid, I had to manufacture my own. Granted, this was in the years before youtube and binge watching Star Trek reruns on Netflix. My best friend from my teenage years (the same lady who is my best friend even now) was probably even more alienated and an outsider than I was. I could at least fake enthusiasm in things like watching sports and politics I didn’t agree with. And I still do, mainly as a mechanism to appear like one of the crowd. I am actually more effected by the reactions of my family and friends to things like politics and our team suffering a losing streak than I am the politics and losing itself. Sadly, social media only amplified this.

Yet, I’m still thankful that enough people had the vision and ability to make social media work to bring it to the world at large. Sure, it was painful seeing sides of people I had known my entire life I would have wished I never knew existed. But I also found out who were really cool people I could count on in times of crisis. I may have lost lots of friends over the last several years, but I strengthened others in the process. Social media and the last few years of social unrest and change have really driven home the fact that most people have the friends they have, not because of shared interests and values, but due to lack of options. I have often had more acceptance and friendship from strangers I’ll never meet in my various facebook groups than I experienced from some people I have known since childhood.

Social media also allowed me to find out who the really toxic people were in my life. Once I gave up trying to talk sense into these people, I cut them out of my life. It was a tough process, but one that was worth it. People like that have always been toxic. It was just in previous eras this toxicity would have never been made public knowledge. These may have been the types of people who were pillars of the community in public but beat and shamed their children and spouse behind closed doors. One positive about social media is that is exposed the con artists and liars for what they are. People like that could have gone entire lifetimes being such and would have probably never been detected. The people who can be aware of how messed up those in power and in our own social circle can be are figuring it out. We don’t necessary need an entire population of citizens aware of how bad they are being cheated by those in authority that have never cared about them. Just enough to force changes are necessary.

Sometimes all it takes is the actions of only one really dedicated individual to inspire others whom in term inspire others. I mean, does anyone know who Gandhi’s brothers and sisters were (without going to wikipedia)? Or Isaac Newton’s? Or Greta Thunberg’s? Or Martin Luther King’s? Short term, fear and hate usually win. Long term, it is usually love and hope that wins out. Sure we have our problems and always will. But that doesn’t mean that progress is in illusion. I absolutely despise people who believe progress isn’t real and that even individual people can’t change. I’ve ended friendships over these attitudes. I spent my entire childhood being bombarded by negativity, pessimism, and fear. I will never go back. Hell, I feel like I was cheated by my elders for trying to steal my optimism and hope. They may have fought to take my hope and crush my spirit and kill my creativity. But they failed and they failed miserably. If anything, they made my resolve even stronger. And I’m not unique in this regard. I imagine every city, town, village, cross roads, tribe, etc. all over the world has at least a few kids who were “hopeless dreamers” who refused to be “practical” in spite of the negativity and punishments of their elders. And many of these kids grew up to be the adults who made positive change possible in their own ways. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are often the ones who accomplish just that. In short, now is probably one of the lousiest times in human history to be a pessimist who naively clings to comfortable lies of the past. It is also an awful time to a tyrant so seeks to divide people and rule through fear.

Finding Happiness in 2020

Even though I don’t socialize much in person anymore, I try my best to stay connected to family and friends. Talked with my parents over FaceTime this morning. My dad had a check up on his heart and he does not need stints or surgery. He is joining a neighborhood gym as he wants to get more active again. I started lifting weights again on a regular basis last week. Even after a few sessions I can feel the strength and endurance starting to return.

In bad news, two of my friends in Omaha tested positive for covid. They are under quarantine for the next two weeks. They aren’t able to work and they sleep most of the time. One friend is a delivery man so he obviously can’t be going anywhere until this clears. Fortunately they seem to be doing better now than a few days ago. I imagine eventually I’ll catch this too. I just hope it’s mild. Even though I’m only 40, I am overweight and mentally ill.

Got some groceries coming this morning. I’m rebuilding my winter supplies. The leaves are starting to change in my hometown. I usually have my windows open during the day but run the furnace at night as it’s starting to get chilly after dark.

I’ve been forcing myself out of my apartment a couple times a day for almost a week now. Sometimes it is as simple as just standing in the hallway for a few minutes. Sometimes I’ll even set up a chair in my doorway so I can sit and try to chat with whomever shows up.

I nap more during the days. I am usually my most active in late mornings and overnights these days. My sleep patterns can change with the seasons and they change if my illness changes too. Haven’t had any serious breakdowns for a few weeks. I still have minor flare ups at least once or twice per day. They don’t usually last long. I have gotten to where I can just let them pass and not feel bad they happen.

I have a couple packages from amazon coming this afternoon. I imagine kids growing up today look forward to the amazon delivery man as much as I did going to the mall when I was growing up.

Changed the parts on my cpap machine yesterday. Slept really well last night. I try to change out the parts a few times a year just to keep the machine properly working.

I don’t have much else planned for the rest of the week. My cleaning lady arrives on Thursday afternoon. I like her. She engages me in conversation while she works. I usually just stay sat down and out of her way while she cleans. I supply the cleaning agents and she does the rest. And she at least tolerates my eccentric sense of humor 🙂

Avoiding Social Interactions

Been pretty stable lately. I imagine much of this is due to avoiding news sites and negative people. I’ve also all but abandoned social media. I have only a handful of people I even try to contact on facebook. If it weren’t for them, I would have cancelled my account years ago. I no longer comment on youtube videos or anywhere else. People are just so mean and angry all the time. It makes for a lonely existence some days. I get told all the time I need to socialize and reach out to people. There is no point to socialize and reach out if these people just make you feel worse. I’m too tired and burned out to argue about stupid crap that doesn’t matter. Anymore I feel happier when I am not forced to socialize. So much for people coming together during times of crisis. I refuse to give negative and rude people any time or effort or second chances anymore. If you can’t figure out that being angry and rude to people isn’t helpful by now, it’s never going to happen.

Labor Day Weekend

With the Labor Day weekend upon us, the seasons will be changing again soon. Got a ballgame on in the background. First football game I’ve seen live since the start of the pandemic. I am ready for some resemblance of normal again. Ordered some chicken wings and I’ll be watching football all day. One of my friends is hosting his in laws this weekend and smoking several pounds of pork for the weekend. Weather is supposed to start cooling off in a few days. Mentally, I’ve always done better in cooler weather.

In addition to American football, I’ve been watching some of the UEFA tournament the last few days. It’s usually on in the mornings here in USA. Makes me long for the Olympics next summer. I’ll be glad when the vaccines are perfected and the pandemic burns out. 2020 has been a trying year for most people. At least I can stay connected via internet.

Maintaining Mental and Physical Well Being During A Pandemic

It’s the middle of August.  The weather is still quite hot, so I spend most of my time indoors with a fan running.  Overall I’m feeling stable and content.  I think it helps that I avoid irritable and rude people as much as possible.  I’m now at least a week into giving up coffee.  I’ve replaced it with black tea.  I feel less irritable and paranoid.  I think the caffeine effects me more negatively now than it did even a couple years ago.  I used to drink over six cups of coffee a day with no problems.  Those days aren’t coming back.

I am staying up later and waking up later now.  I usually go to bed at midnight and wake for good at 9am now.  I usually eat only twice a day, with my biggest meal usually being lunch.  I think I’ve lost weight during this pandemic.  I know my clothes fit better and I recover from aches and pains faster.  And I usually make a point to leave my apartment several days a week, even if it’s something as simple as going to the library on my floor or picking up my mail.

As far as my diet goes, I have given up most sugar and carbs.  I eat mostly meat, canned vegetables, soups, etc.  I seem to be less lethargic and irritable with this diet.  I almost never eat bread or pasta anymore.

Had my prescription medications renewed at my last psych doctor’s appointment a couple weeks ago.  We did a teleconference.  So my meds are taken care of for another few months.  Since I get them mailed to my home, I don’t even need to go to the pharmacy anymore.  I do most of my shopping online these days.  If I need anything from a store that doesn’t deliver, I can usually sweet talk one of my neighbors or my cleaning lady to pick it up.

My cleaning lady is back to work.  She had to had surgery two months ago.  Yesterday was her first day back.  I’m glad to see her again.  I get a cleaned home and some conversation while she’s here.  She’s real chatty so she actually likes chatting when she works.  I usually just sit in my recliner and stay out her way when she works.

Overall I’m doing alright in spite the pandemic and economic woes, at least for now.  I’m hopeful as there are several possibilities for vaccines in trials right now.  And we didn’t even know what covid 19 was one year ago.  It’s quite amazing how fast researchers were able to get that work done.  I know some of my friends don’t take covid 19 as seriously as they should, saying things like “it’s not the Black Death.”  Thank God it isn’t.

Quarantine Journal: July 20, 2020

Had some work done by maintenance in my apartment this afternoon.  So that is taken care of.  Bought some groceries over the weekend.  So I’m set for the next several days.  Been getting out of the apartment at least once a day for the last several days.  Reading a couple e books right now.  Working on Wealth of Nations and Count of Monte Cristo.  I read both of these years ago.  But I thought I’d re read them.

Besides the maintenance workers, my neighbors came and visited a couple times over the weekend.  They were kind enough to make dinner last night.  I provided the meat and they did the rest.  We had bratwursts and fried potatoes.  They usually cook for me and a few other people at least once a week.

Keeping in contact with friends and family a little every day.  A friend of mine is losing hours at her job as her company is struggling due to the pandemic and economic problems.  Another friend of mine and his wife are expecting their second child any day now.  A third friend of mine is back to working at the office in her job.  She had been working from home for the last few months.  My brother and his family are in the process of moving to a different house in the same town they live in.  My oldest nephew just got his drivers’ license a few days ago.

Baseball games will be starting in a few days here in the U.S.  I’m glad to see this.  I had been watching Italian and English soccer most days to get my sports fix.  It’s weird seeing games played in empty arenas.

Overall I’m weathering the summer well.  I don’t watch the news much.  I sometimes watch Bloomberg Business but not much else.  And I still sleep alright.