Sunday, May 17, 2020

Entertaining Distraction

Tree blossoms are replaced by buttercups.

I drive through twenty-five stop lights and two roundabouts to get to work.

I’m going to hike the Wonderland Trail this summer. I’ve started planning already: I’ll go counterclockwise and take 13 days to complete the trip.

I’m reading a book called Nine Perfect Strangers which has been an entertaining distraction from, well, you know.

“I’m sorry, but we are still having a limit of one hand sanitizer/pack of flour/dried beans/baby formula. Which one of these would you like to keep?”

I’ll take a road trip to see everyone I love and miss. I’ll start in Montana, then go to Oregon, down to California, over to Arizona, Louisiana. Keep going to St. Louis and Boston and Kansas City and Bloomington and Chicago and Minnesota and Canada and Florida and Ohio. I will be able to hug everyone and sit nice and close to them and not wear a mask.

Big Boat School might not be such a bad idea after all. The founder of Women Offshore told me that the resources and network of a maritime academy would be useful for the span of a career on the water.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Behind the Plexiglas they say to me “I can’t believe that people wear homemade masks/don’t wear masks/don’t follow the one-way isles/are leaving their homes, can you?” I squint, I shrug. Beep. Beep. Beep.

As soon as Governor Ige invites tourists to return, I’m going to buy a ticket to Hawaii and stay there until I can’t stand the warm breeze or the sand sticking to my skin.

When will we get back to Michigan? When will it be safe to drive across the country so we can embrace all the wonderful people we know in the Midwest?

I sit in my car to eat my lunch. In the sky I watch a seagull follow a crow that has something orange in his beak. I watch a family having a six-feet-away-party with balloons hanging out of car windows.

I’m just going to go back to work on the sternwheeler and pretend that the first five months of 2020 were in a movie I saw.

Virtual dance music festivals and Eurovision Home Concerts are not bad things to come out of all this. I’ve even been a part of Zoom parties with family and that’s worked alright. My friends send me photos of their beautiful children. Thank god we’ve got the internet.

When I look down to place groceries in paper bags the mask moves up and rubs at the bottom of my eyelashes and eyelids and makes my eyes water.

Don't worry. I wear gloves too.

When I graduate from the academy I’m going to get a job on a research vessel and learn new and wonderful things from the scientists on board. Scientists like geologists who are studying submarine volcanoes.

Yesterday the four of us got to do a virtual tasting together for the first time in weeks. We had a hilarious time sipping a nut brown beer, snacking on a cheese ball, and debating if the aerator was effective or not on a fifteen year old red wine.

They check my temperature when I get to work. They stick out their arm like they’re in an action movie and point a purple and white gun at my forehead. I try not to grimace.

I want to see the Netherlands in summer. I’ll fly out there in a few weeks and leave flowers and treats each week for my grandparents until I can see them again. I’ll go on walks with my cousins and I’ll take touristy photos of windmills.

There are only thirty-four more days until Summer Solstice.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Beep! and I say a number


Your total is $339.86

That’s my new thing. I Beep! and then I say a number. Well, the register Beep!s and I do the talking, but together we are a team of HEROES helping hungry Americans survive in These Uncertain Times.  

While the first two weeks of quarantine with my folks were packed with refreshing walks and page-turning tales (Cussler, Preston, and Montgomery, ya’ll sure had me hooked!) the third week was slightly more pre-pandemic feeling. I set alarms. I packed lunches. I had to be somewhere at a certain time.

For those of you who’ve forgotten what all that adds up to, it means: I got a job. I went to work.

I am now officially a part-time cashier at a grocery store. (Did I just hear you gasp!? Friends, I’m doing what I can to “stay safe.” The store supplies masks and gloves, which I use and despise. I take the initiative to wash my hands as frequently as is outlined by the CDC, Department of Health, and other officials. And no, I am not making out with people who have a fever, cough, or shortness of breath.Tyler has been in great health, thank you very much.)  


It’s very interesting to work a normally thankless job that has existed around the world for ages, and then suddenly, because of COVID-19, cashiers are hearing words of gratitude each hour they're on the clock. Thank you for being here! Thank you for doing this! First of all, I feel silly because I’ve worked a total of three shifts and thanks should really be given to veterans. Second, I really hope that this sort of awareness for the less glamorous jobs in the world that keep us all afloat on the regular sticks around when this virus blows over. We needed cashiers in October as much as we do now and will next April. Basically, I hope we all can appreciate each other more in the post-pandemic world. That’s not so much to ask, is it?

Speaking of thankful, I am thankful to have something to do, a way to interact with the public, and a little drive to and from work to enjoy some music while alone in the car. I know how many people are out of jobs, financially insecure, and are watching their sanity dissolve with each day they have to endure the lockdowns. But this job, being back at home, and the current state of the world, has given me a chance to reexamine what I might want for myself in the an adult(ish) kind of way. Should I attend a Maritime Academy and set myself up for six months of travel and $80k a year or better? Should I give in and make a YouTube channel and hope to survive on the magic of the internet? How about geology? Could I learn enough math fast enough to get a Master of Science degree before I’m 50? What happened to that trust fund I was promised? (wait, maybe I saw that on TV. Crap.)


While COVID continues it’s crash course around our planet, I’ll continue to Beep! and tell the public their totals with a smile… which they can’t see because of my mask. Ah well, at least they can’t see when I stick my tongue out when I am lifting something heavy out of the bottom of their cart! Beep!


I’m not actually a Clive Cussler fan. The one I read had a virus theme which I saw fitting in These Uncertain Times, but I have no intentions of picking up any other Oregon books. Now I’m moving on to a thriller set in a mountain cave! Please show me a mental escape, literature!

The total above isn't an extreme number I just made up. Although residents of Earth were hoarding food five weeks ago already, they're still piling grocery carts so full that by the time their items are bagged it takes two carts and a courtesy clerk to get them out the door. Every day is like the day before Thanksgiving during pandemic. On that note, remember to say thank you to those who need to hear it... not limited to just your friendly cashier!

Thursday, April 2, 2020

We Got Back Together

I’m finding that I have a lot to say and don’t quite know where to begin with this blog!
I suppose that’s because:

A) I haven’t written since October
B) Since then I’ve
                i. taken a six week vacation
                ii. made the decision to remain in the northwest
                iii. moved into a home, started a new job
C) COVID-19 is happening and now I’ve
                i. moved out of a home, quit a job
                ii. moved in with my parents (again!?)
                iii. am eagerly awaiting all of this to end so I can GET ON WITH LIFE ALREADY!

Maybe I’ll start in June of 2019. Yes, that feels right.

I wasn’t totally honest with you last year my friends. I may have omitted a fairly large detail of my life. I broke up with Tyler last June. While you pick up your jaw off the floor, let me first apologize for the lack of updates in this region of my life. While you wonder how I continued to write as though we were together, I’ll tell you it was because I had all my money on us getting back together, and I didn’t want to trouble the internet with updates that were quite long and difficult to explain.  The end of the story is that we did get back together. In December. I’m telling you this now because this unexpected event and it’s consequences has manifested itself in a rather funny way now with the whole pandemic thing. I’ll give you some details about all that now…

Just over a year ago Tyler got on an airplane to see his family and we spent a few very long weeks apart. I visited Tyler in the Midwest in April, then I patiently waited another few long weeks to see him again in Portland. That time between his departure in February and our reuniting in Portland was time for me to start listening to voices that I’d been ignoring in my heart. Folks, just after Tyler came home from documentary camp all inspired and joyful, I broke his heart. After five and a half years together I needed to step away.  

After that was a months-long display of Tyler’s efforts to prove that no one could love me like he could. I got love poems typed on a typewriter. He wore his hair down, something I’d been requesting for years! He took me on dates then he dropped me off with a goodnight kiss. There was no ignoring his charm. He displayed his love with patience, understanding and bravery. We saw other people, we gave each other space. When we met in 2013 we didn’t get to date or do “the beginning.” We went straight from a couple weeks of working together to living in hotels and being together full time. Summer of 2019 was a chance to create what we had missed, and it was something I needed to experience in a time when I was feeling really disconnected from him.

It was a long, challenging and beautiful few months for both of us, together and apart. We changed, we grew, and by December we decided it was time to Try Again. We Got Back Together. With that union (and par for the course for the two of us!) we had another Big Decision to make. Getting Back Together meant we needed figure out if we’d live together again and if we’d stay in Portland. I found a house to stay in (apart from Tyler) and a barista job to hold me over while we figured this out. In the meantime Tyler had been living with my old roommate (yep, he moved into the apartment I was in during the summer) and was working full time at the winery he had interned at during the harvest season.

Tyler got a disposable camera to use on my birthday. Here we are happy in Portland!

In February we hit a jackpot! Opportunity fell into our laps! The marketing company that we’d worked for when we met had a six week tour lined up for April and May in the southeast and they wanted us to run it together. We were thrilled! We’d be back on the road, doing something we enjoyed, and (funny enough) back where “We” started in 2013. Tyler and I put in two weeks notice at our jobs, let our roommates know that we’d be moving out, and we prepared ourselves for almost two months of driving around America and buffing out what were some rough edges in our rekindled relationship.


You know it.


In exactly the space of the two weeks that we’d put in our notice for, we watched COVID-19 rob us of all of our plans. First, we weren’t able to visit Michigan where we were planning to go before we started our tour. This was devastating because we haven’t been since April of last year (we really, really miss you family). Then, as the situation worsened, we watched the tour get canceled and, as a final kick in the pants, Tyler’s winery job wasn’t able to keep him on.

So! What do we do? We swim! Tyler and I, after not living together for over a year, and after anticipating what might have been a fun kick start to our new life together, packed our bags…. and moved in with my parents.

We decided it was the safest financially for us, and it was also a great place to remain flexible and ready to pounce when all this is over. Moving back to Washington is an optimistic gamble that when COVID-19 runs its course, when the marketing gig is live again, we will have our bags packed with no roommates to desert at the last minute or leases to break on a rental. It’s also an ideal time to be close to those we love. We are on a beautiful property with a view of Mount Rainier, we are eating vegetables again for the first time in ages, and we threw Tyler the greatest virtual birthday party that ever was!

I hope you can see why I decided to travel back in time for this post. I wanted you to know the whole truth, but I also wanted to share why this Coronavirus situation is a little stranger for the two of us than it might have been if we’d been together and sharing a home this last year.

Although we aren’t lounging on a beach in West Palm Beach right now (thanks a lot, you stupid pandemic!), we are fighting this crap with laughter, virtual wine tastings, and refreshing walks. Thank you for being patient with while I had a few months off. I sure hope I can rope you back into my adventures while we are all stuck at home behind our computers! And books. Please remember to crash through some books to keep your brains alive.