isolation report day 26

Still around. I keep running out of clean pajama or pajama-like items. It now takes over a week to build up a decent load of laundry (not that I can really be bothered with doing it one way or another), because when you don’t leave the house you don’t really get dirty.

I came to an uncomfortable realization last weekend: Ed and I might hit the isolation wall sooner than we expected. We’ve been self-isolating for over three weeks at this point, when a lot of the world is just getting started – hitting three weeks felt like a big milestone, but nothing actually happens: you don’t earn your freedom or see new people or get to go to the store unfettered. There’s simply no end in sight. It just .. is.

It’s depressing, but it helps to know we’re not in this alone. Every other person is (or damn well should be) coping with the restrictions as best they can, and we have it so much better than many people that it’s hard to wallow. I let myself have little pity parties, but I try to keep them from leaking out.

It’s not all bad, though!

Unexpected Quarantine Positives:

  • Nail polish has become a quarantine essential. All this “no touching your face” has me not biting my nails, which are now long enough to paint in fun colours. Not well, but still. Fun colours!
  • We did a full inventory of our pantry and freezer, tracked in a spreadsheet for extra anal goodness
  • Unable to use vacation time or savings for anything good, so they’re amassing at a decent clip. I’m not at the part where it’s fun to fantasize about where we can go after the apocalypse, but I assume I’ll get there eventually and want to start planning things.
  • World’s slowest and laziest spring cleaning
  • Digging through my closet to build interesting isolation wear outfits is fun and also ridiculous
  • Unlimited time for Animal Crossing!
  • Diet Coke is still in ample supply, and going out to get it feels like an epic side quest Yesterday’s loot drop included 3 cans of tuna, a loaf of bread, and a bunch of meat to restock the freezer.
  • Ridiculously happy cats
  • Saving money on gas and cleaning and entertainment and everything else we’re not buying, because most of my online purchases go to the US and I can’t collect packages now so it’s not nearly as fun to order things when you don’t know when you’ll actually receive it

Going outside to get supplies is super nerve-wracking, and every time we come back (we only go out one at a time) we’re hyper vigilant about any possible illness symptoms. It’s mostly just an exercise in worrying because I don’t think signs of COVID show up within an hour of being in Other Places. We successfully completed post-travel isolation without any symptoms, which is good. I try not to worry about how long we can keep that up.

2020 is fucking weird.

square one

I didn’t realize how much significance I placed on being symptom-free for my entire quarantine.

Yesterday was the 14th day of isolation. We celebrated by getting on our bikes and riding to the corner grocery store in search of supplies, which were plentiful – it’s a corner store that only sells produce, with a tiny selection of dry goods and dairy. I wasn’t able to get any eggs, but everything else was in ample supply. Okay, I had to get off-brand corn nuts, but the apocalypse is no time to be choosey.

The trip to the store and back again was completely uneventful. There were several other people in the store, but everyone kept their distance and no one coughed on any of the apples. The closest I got to anyone’s danger hole was the cashier, who was wearing a mask. We washed and sanitized our hands as soon as we got home with our loot, then went out on our bikes again for an even longer ride – it was gorgeous outside, and the perfect day to stay the fuck away from other humans.

However, today I am freaking the fuck out. I feel like even being within shouting distance of other people yesterday was a super bad idea, and I’m terrified that I now have to begin my 2-week isolation all over again. I have no new symptoms (I’ve had the sniffles for about 20 years due to allergies), but my brain is screaming that I’ve caught COVIDs 1-19 and every one of them is going to make me suffer all the way to death. Ed keeps telling me I’m being silly, but I can’t help my fears. They are big and loud and scary and I could actually die from this fucking thing and I went outside and now I am dooooooooomed.

Seriously, though. How do you quarantine your fear? I was doing so well,  but that 14-day milestone was more important to my brain that I assumed. The thought of simply existing and waiting another 2 weeks for symptoms is hugely overwhelming, and I don’t have enough edibles to keep the anxiety at bay.

isolation report day 12

I’ve been self-isolated since the 7th, only venturing out once for supplies like a manic squirrel (who still had enough common squirrel sense to not hoard acorns or toilet paper). I was pretty dang worried, to be honest – I am immunocompromised for half a dozen bullshit reasons, we were on a plane for 9 hours, our travelling companions were both sick with nasty colds, and I looooove touching my face. I’m about halfway through the recommended isolation period (I’m going with three weeks because I’m a keener), and I haven’t had any symptoms of anything, really. A couple of hair-related headaches, some wicked cramps, and I nicked my leg while shaving, but no fever or tiredness or coughing.

have been experiencing fits of rage over work, but that’s a whole other issue.

Our supplies are holding steady. We resorted to food delivery last night because someone (me) was too high to cook, and it was pretty awful so we likely won’t be doing that again. We may need to attempt a covert operation in search of perishables and some of the more popular snacks, but our pantry and freezer overfloweth. I’m comforted by this now, but later in the day when I remember we’re out of Pringles and Corn Nuts, we may have a problem.

My supply of edibles is still vast, but I’ll definitely need to restock when all this is over. Because it will end, right? All I really have now (other than a big drawer of drugs and a pantry full of creamed corn) is hope. Will it be enough?

Stay safe and far apart from each other, everyone.

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hashtag blessed

All praise and glory unto the god of Good Timing, for they are merciful and sexy af.

We returned from Amsterdam on Saturday, March 7th. Travel bans had not yet been put into place, but people were being cautious. We landed at 2pm, yet customs was as empty as I’ve ever seen it and the airport as a whole was significantly less busy than normal.

When we travel internationally, I order groceries online to be delivered several hours after we return because we are usually in no shape to get ourselves organized enough to run errands after a long flight (also there are kitties and we don’t want to leave them again, even for food). I ordered with the pandemic in mind, and stocked up on a few things I knew we needed in addition to the usual produce and perishables. I did order toilet paper, but just one package. You don’t go through much TP when you don’t poop, you see. Also, in a shocking first, every single thing I ordered was delivered. There’s always been an exception or something out of stock, but not this time. We are rolling in bread!

Since we returned home, Ed and I have been voluntarily self-quarantined. We did pop out on Thursday afternoon for a supply run – Diet Coke, additional perishables, and a huge amount of frozen quick meals – but there were no issues with availability or massive long lines. The only empty shelves were for Lysol wipes and hand sanitizers, neither of which were on our grocery list. We were able to maintain a safe distance from people and got all our stuff done.

I am super thankful that we had the foresight to do a supply run mid-week. Not even a day later, reports were coming out of places being closed because they had been shopped completely bare, and massive shoulder-to-shoulder mobs as people scrambled to get whatever they could for the quarantines ahead. Knowing that we had traveled internationally (and to one of the no-no areas), we planned to get what we needed before it became a dire necessity, and were successful. Our quarantine is in full effect (y’all) – we even skipped a birthday party in Washington state that we’d been looking forward to for months. It sucked, but .. you know .. pandemic, and all that.

When I was growing up, my parents were low-level hoarders. Maybe hoarders isn’t the right word .. they were bargain shoppers, and unable to pass up a sale. Due to this, my house was always teeming with household supplies – toilet paper, toothpaste, laundry detergent, etc. My friends used to joke about shopping at my parent’s house, and after I had moved out, that’s exactly what I did – I never bought any of this stuff, I just went home and helped myself.

I eventually left town, and could no longer shop at dad’s pantry. I maintained some of their habits though, and always seemed to have more than our house of two needed to have on hand. This has served me really well during this toilet paper crisis – we haven’t needed to go full Mad Max at the store, because I already had too much TP at home. Ed made fun of me for our toilet paper stores, but who’s laughing now? Me. I am laughing now. Thanks, dad!

Everything is getting kind of weird, but not in the ways you might expect: for us, nothing has changed. We’ve always worked from home. We rarely interact with other people on account of my being a broken anti-social weirdo. We don’t go where crowds are, and our home is always (over) stocked with essentials. I can’t imagine how overwhelming the new normal is for people who have actual lives – kids home indefinitely, work suspended or hastily moved to remote, worrying about supplies – those are the people I feel for. We haven’t been able to hang out with friends lately, and I can’t plan any travel for the year ahead, but everything else is exactly the same. Our workloads haven’t lessened at all because there’s no adjustment period to remote work. Our cats, while happy we’re home from vacation, aren’t besides themselves loving the attention (and are actually getting annoyed with our constant hovering). It hasn’t even really been all that quiet at home, since kids are heading outdoors to play in the warmer weather (at least, I hope that’s what all the screaming is about). It’s just a whole lot of Business as Usual at Halfwack, and I am grateful for it.

Also, today is our 2-year Halfwack anniversary. Hooray!

Okay, back to my piles of work that will not be going away any time soon because editing online help files is an essential service.

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has it come to this already?

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After 4 years of trying, we’ve finally earned the right to display the Amsterdam travel poster on our kitchen wall. Success!

Ed and I spent 5 days in Amsterdam and 3 days in Haarlem with Excellent Friends and it was so fun. Cold, but fun. We’d actually spent the three previous years in countries much souther than the Netherlands, and so were somewhat unprepared for the horrors of a Dutch winter – the rain we could handle, but the wind and boner-killing COLD of it all was truly dazzling in the worst possible way. It seems that traveling to exciting new places and purchasing emergency climate-appropriate clothing is rapidly becoming a thing for us – we happened upon a Dutch clothing store (hilariously called America Today) selling delightfully warm and waterproof jackets, and the four of us gleefully bundled up to stave off the misery.

The weather wasn’t all bad while we were there – we did have two or three glorious days, which were appreciated that much more when they came around. I can only imagine that the Netherlands are fucking magical when it’s not winter, because even with the wind and rain it was pretty damn excellent. I would definitely go again. Maybe not in February, but again.

It’s been a while, but let’s see if I can remember how to do this.

Amsterdam in Numbers

  • Dutch pancakes eaten: 14
  • Bottles of Diet Coke smuggled into the country: 11; they lasted 6 days
  • Museums visited: 4 (Van Gogh, Moco, a diamond museum, and the glorious Rijksmuseum)
  • Epiphanies about Van Gogh: 1 (in addition to the mental illness, he had some problematic views about the “peasants” he so admired)
  • Cafes visited by me: 0. Funny thing about Amsterdam’s drug culture: it’s not as good as Seattle or Vancouver. I have zero interest in mushrooms, but thought about visiting a cafe or two because when in Rome and all that. Thing is, all their joints are spliffs – a mixture of pot and tobacco. I may fill my body with chemicals and have highly questionable habits, but I draw the line at tobacco – it’s super fucking gross and makes me cough and stink and sad. Plus, I’m WAY too cool to look like a common tourist so I just didn’t bother.
  • Red Light District visits: 3
  • Stairs climbed to get to our amazing hotel room in Haarlem: 56, several times a day ow
  • Gallons of freshly squeezed orange juice enjoyed: 4
  • Canals almost fallen into: 2
  • Bicycles hit by: 1
  • Kitties pet: 4!
  • Amazing retro clothing stores found in Haarlem: 1
  • Emergency leggings purchased at Primark: 3
  • Bird-shaped leather goods bought: 4
  • People thanked in neither Dutch nor English: 2 (Spanish)
  • Canal cruises taken: 2
  • Cheese eaten: too much
  • Chocolate: see above
  • Shoe-themed souvenirs brought home: 8
  • Trip casualties: 2 (the lint roller and my reusable straw in Fancy Case were accidentally left behind in Amsterdam)
  • Hotels selected because of the great name: 1
  • Likelihood of a return visit to Holland: 169

So, what’s next?

I don’t know, and it’s driving me batty. All travel planning is on hold until Covid-19 shows itself out. I’m sure my upcoming posts will be less coherent the longer my cabin fever (and hopefully not real fever) goes on.

 

please offer me an egg in this trying time

I fucked up.

It was decided that the post-Barcelona trip this year would be to Amsterdam. When it came time to book the flights, there was no way for me to get Ed from Vancouver to Barcelona, then Amsterdam, then back to Vancouver without enduring any hellacious 16-hour layovers. I tried different configurations for over a month and even tried using a travel agent, but came up with nothing. To get around this, I booked Ed on two flights, four legs total:

  • Vancouver to Amsterdam, leaving before the conference and returning after vacation (KLM outgoing, Delta return)
  • Amsterdam to Barcelona, leaving several hours after landing in Amsterdam and returning after the conference (KLM outgoing, Iberia return)

The plan was for Ed to rub elbows in Barcelona while I cleaned up cat pee, then I would join him in Amsterdam a week later. His BCN-AMS flight would have landed two hours after my YVR-AMS flight, at which point we would purchase some wooden clogs and find some tulips to tiptoe through.

Unfortunately, germs happened. GMSA cancelled the Mobile World Congress entirely last week. It’s the biggest mobile conference in the world, so thousands of people are scrambling and trying to recoup flight and hotel costs. Luckily, I had purchased insurance for both of Ed’s flights, so everything should be fine!

Narrator: Things were not fine.

I dealt with the inner two legs first, and tried to cancel AMS-BCN. I managed to get a refund for the KLM portion, but the Iberia leg does not allow any changes. I have to go through insurance if I want the rest refunded. Insurance has already told me that a worldwide pandemic is not a valid reason to refund flight costs, so while I can go through the super fun experience of submitting a claim, there’s approximately 0.2% chance of it being successful.

Next up was the YVR-AMS flight. I wanted to change Ed’s outgoing flight from 02/21 to 02/27, but KLM basically laughed at me and told me to get bent: the flight is 100% non-changeable and non-refundable. Adding a dash of fun and complication was the fact that I had purchased an upgrade for Ed, from basic economy to economy plus, which allowed him checked luggage and a much better seat. KLM happily took my money for this, but input the change as a seat change only because technically upgrading the cabin was a change, which was not allowed. They never told me this, just said yep here’s your receipt and your new seat and see you later. Cool.

So, I can’t make any changes to the KLM flight whatsoever. Ed’s return flight from Amsterdam was still fine – I was on the same flight, just on a different ticket entirely – so I booked him a one-way ticket from YVR-AMS, leaving on the 27th with me. Hooray!

Narrator: Things were not hooray.

There’s no reason for Ed to be in Amsterdam/Barcelona a week early, so he missed his original outgoing flight (scheduled for today). Unfortunately, when you miss one flight, the rest of your flights get cancelled – so I got a lovely email late this afternoon saying Ed no longer had a return flight on 03/07.

I called up Expedia, who basically told me we were fucked. Ed called Delta, who said the same thing. They’d be willing to reinstate Ed’s return ticket if we paid the difference for a new ticket, which currently costs $4800.

At this point, we’ve paid for a return flight to Amsterdam (Ed), a second return flight to Amsterdam (me), and a one-way ticket to Amsterdam (Ed) for a total spend of about $5k, which doesn’t include hotels and red-light visits. I’ve been working on this trip since October, throwing myself into planning two days after the Japan trip didn’t happen as a way to distract myself from the overwhelming disappointment of our ruined, non-refundable, insurance-doesn’t-cover-super-typhoons trip.

I feel so stupid. I should have realized that simply not showing up to one flight would render the rest of ticket void, but I’ve been so stressed out trying to unravel this mess that I just .. didn’t. It doesn’t help that my ego is sporting some serious bruises, because I enjoyed almost a full decade of extreme luck when booking trips, only for everything to have been 17 different flavours of bad since our first truncated trip in 2018. I’m also 100% done purchasing travel insurance, because this is the third time my trip has been fucked through no fault of my own but the policy (with Allianz, Aetna, and now AIG) hasn’t covered fuck all.

I was on the phone for two hours this afternoon, and we actually have a resolution: Expedia changed Ed’s one-way YVR-AMS flight to a return trip with the exact flights we want, AND they covered the cost of the change (best case scenario would have been $401). I was willing to pay the extra $400 to make the flight work because we were in too deep to back out now (and I don’t want to) and $400 was easier to swallow than $4800, but I’m so so so glad the supervisor I spoke with (I had to go full Karen and ask for a manager after the first agent wasn’t able to help me) went to bat with corporate for me. I’m exhausted and hate the phone and am thinking about breeding complicated dogs as a hobby instead of travel, but as of right now, things are good and it didn’t cost me thousands more to fix and holy fuck do I ever need this fucking vacation.

I am weepy, but pleased.

double booked

I accidentally booked a brow wax appointment at two different places, right across the street from one another. It would be rude to cancel, so the only appropriate thing to do is to get one brow done at each place. This can’t possibly backfire!

We leave for Amsterdam in 6 days and I am beyond excite. This trip has been complicated since day one – it was supposed to come at the end of the tech conference Ed attends for work, which got cancelled last week due to most of the major vendors pulling out over Wu-Tang fears. Flights had to be cancelled and travel insurance screwed us yet again (third time in 18 months) so we’re out of pocket for a hastily booked one-way flight to AMS, but we’re determined to get there. It was originally a destination for our fall trip in 2018, but we had to cut our trip short because of mister pissy pants (who is STILL pissing his pants all over the floor and Ed says it builds character). We’re going with some excellent friends, which makes for extra excite – I love traveling with people. Adventure is even better when you get to share it.

Plus we’re all official Bad Girls (even Ed and Mike), so you know it’s gonna be fun for all ages.

It feels like it’s been FOREVER since my last travel (which was in November, so that’s basically forever) and my cabin fever (along with the actual fever) has been fierce. I’m gonna tour so many canals, you guys.

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i am 11/12 bad girl.