- by Alyson Shane
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.
- by Alyson Shane
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.
- by Alyson Shane
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.
- by Alyson Shane
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.
- by Alyson Shane
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!
- by Alyson Shane
One of the things about living in a relatively unknown place in the middle of the flat prairies is that stuff like this tends to skip you by or not matter as much
(SARS? What SARS?)
so while places like Calgary are freaking out and swarming Costco's at 10 AM to buy toilet paper in bulk
and events like SXSW and GDC and Facebook's F8 Developers Conference are all being cancelled amid fears that the virus will spread
and stock prices are crashing and the market is slowing
for the most part things here at home feel pretty normal.
Last week I took the bus multiple times every day
on Saturday I spoke on a panel at an event where about 100 people attended
and none of my clients seem all that concerned about the Coronavirus impacting their events and businesses all that much.
Last week we stocked up on cat litter and food and canned goods and Lysol wipes and toilet paper and paper towel and even bottles of water and cans of club soda and
I felt silly, honestly
I remember when people were stocking up during SARS and then that
and that's kinda how this feels.
Like we're preparing for something that might never happen.
A lockdown or a quarantine situation that
like the last pandemic
might just skip over my cold prairie province almost entirely.
But being prepared feels stupid until it isn't.